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10 - Courts and Effective Governance

from Part IV - The Role of Courts in Building State Capacity and Promoting Effective Self-Government While Protecting Rights

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  20 October 2022

Vicki C. Jackson
Affiliation:
Harvard Law School, Massachusetts
Yasmin Dawood
Affiliation:
University of Toronto
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Summary

Governments are put in place to carry out policies. Effective governance means that they have the capacity to implement those policies. As Samuel Huntington observed, “[t]he most important political distinction among countries concerns not their form of government but their degree of government.”1 For our purposes, state capacity is the ability of a government-in-place to develop and implement policies that its leaders believe will improve national well-being. The capacity to govern includes having the required material resources, the personnel for whatever is necessary to deliver the policies to their beneficiaries, and a bureaucratic organization that enables high-level officials to implement policies.

How does state capacity feature in constitutional adjudication? And how can courts contribute to effective governance? Of course, they can interpret constitutions and statutes to authorize government officials to use whatever capacity they have to implement their chosen policies.

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Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Print publication year: 2022

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