Judicialization in Authoritarian Regimes: The Expansion of Powers of the Chinese Supreme People's Court

International Journal of Constitutional Law, Vol. 17, 2019, 252-277

36 Pages Posted: 12 Feb 2018 Last revised: 12 May 2019

See all articles by Björn Ahl

Björn Ahl

Institute of East Asian Studies, University of Cologne

Date Written: February 6, 2018

Abstract

Over the past two decades courts in China have undergone tremendous changes as they developed into more professional and efficient institutions for solving legal disputes. Whereas the literature has described the empowerment of Chinese courts as ‘intrinsically local’, we turn to the national level and explore how the development of the Supreme People’s Court (SPC) relates to the global phenomenon of a ‘judicialization of authoritarian politics’. Drawing on legal documents and secondary literature, the study argues that the SPC has extended its powers gradually and in a non-confrontational manner into the realms of other constitutional actors. The court has expanded its competences primarily through its legislative function and its substantial input into procedural law reforms. As the court serves core interests of the party, the empowerment appears rather instrumentalist and reversible. However, the SPC is in a position to promote its own agenda by indicating deference to core party goals and is in exchange granted certain leeway to pursue its institutional interests.

Keywords: Chinese constitutional law, Supreme People's Court, judicialization

Suggested Citation

Ahl, Björn, Judicialization in Authoritarian Regimes: The Expansion of Powers of the Chinese Supreme People's Court (February 6, 2018). International Journal of Constitutional Law, Vol. 17, 2019, 252-277. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3118847

Björn Ahl (Contact Author)

Institute of East Asian Studies, University of Cologne ( email )

Albertus-Magnus-Platz
Cologne, 50923
Germany
+492214705421 (Phone)

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