The Politics of the Rule of Law

Moeen H. Cheema, The Politics of the Rule of Law, 24 Mich. St. Int'l L. Rev. 449 (2016).

46 Pages Posted: 1 Oct 2016

Date Written: September 25, 2016


In March 2009, Chief Justice Iftikhar Chaudhry and several other deposed judges were restored to the Supreme Court of Pakistan as a result of a populist movement for the restoration of an independent judiciary. The Supreme Court of Pakistan has since engaged in judicial activism that has resulted in a clash between the judiciary and the elected executive and has brought the distinction between the Rule of Law and the judicialization of politics into contestation. This Paper deconstructs the philosophical debates over the meaning and relevance of the Rule of Law in order to show that the claims to universal applicability, neutrality and inherent value implicit in the dominant modes of theorizing about the Rule of Law are hollow. The deeper concern animating these debates is not the desire to draw hard lines between “law” and “politics.” However, abstract Rule of Law contestations have limited value and relevance, when divorced from the political, constitutional, and sociological context. Only a sharper understanding of the nature of the special politics of law and the specific contexts (of constitutional law, state structure, social, and economic life- forms) shall enable a better understanding of the ever-increasing resonance of the Rule of Law, especially in the Global South.

Keywords: Pakistan, international law, rule of law

Suggested Citation

Cheema, Moeen H., The Politics of the Rule of Law (September 25, 2016). Moeen H. Cheema, The Politics of the Rule of Law, 24 Mich. St. Int'l L. Rev. 449 (2016). , Available at SSRN:

Moeen H. Cheema (Contact Author)

ANU College of Law ( email )

Canberra, Australian Capital Territory 0200

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