The Warren Court in East Asia: An Essay in Comparative Law

44 Pages Posted: 3 May 2004  

Tom Ginsburg

University of Chicago Law School

Date Written: May 3, 2004


The Warren Court was the apex of liberal legalism in America, embodying hopes that courts could play a leading role in social change. It has thus been an inspiration to judges and activists around the world. This paper traces the influence of the Warren Court in East Asia, focusing on three countries, Korea, Taiwan and Japan. Because of the Japanese colonial legacy, these three countries share certain institutional structures and basic orientations of the legal system, providing a useful context for a comparative analysis. The paper first traces the impact of Warren Court jurisprudence in each country in particular doctrinal areas, especially criminal procedure and reapportionment. It then goes on to consider the factors that account for differential levels and modes of impact in different contexts as a way of drawing comparative conclusions about the conditions for transnational judicial influence. It argues that institutional structure, as well as political forces, is the crucial determinant of whether ideas from abroad can become effective legal transfers.

Suggested Citation

Ginsburg, Tom, The Warren Court in East Asia: An Essay in Comparative Law (May 3, 2004). Illinois Public Law Research Paper No. 04-12. Available at SSRN: or

Tom Ginsburg (Contact Author)

University of Chicago Law School ( email )

1111 E. 60th St.
Chicago, IL 60637
United States

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