Why do Judges Cite the Party? References to Party Ideology in Chinese Court Decisions
China: An International Journal, Vol. 18, No. 2, May 2020, pp. 175-185.
17 Pages Posted: 15 Jan 2020 Last revised: 8 Jun 2020
Date Written: December 24, 2019
The availability of court decisions in open-access databases has opened a new avenue for textual approaches to investigating judicial practice in China. Against the backdrop of recent adjustments in the party-state relationship, this study analyses the interaction of core ideological concepts with legal arguments through the lens of court decisions and demonstrates that the courts do refer directly to concepts of party ideology, albeit only in a very small number of cases. In these decisions, ideology serves mainly as justification for the judicial correction of legislation that produces unjust results. The courts refer to ideology to appease the losing parties in lawsuits, as well as to explain and interpret substantive law. They respect the fundamental separation between party policy and law in principle and neither attempt to replace law by ideology nor to ‘legalise’ ideological concepts. References to ideology are primarily a response to the political embeddedness of the courts, their relatively weak position within the party-state apparatus and the absence of the autonomy of law.
Keywords: Chinese courts, party ideology, court decisions
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation