Judicial Review and Individual Legal Activism : The Case of Russia in Theoretical Perspective
Abstract: This dissertation deals with judicial review of governmental action and individual legal activism. It investigates whether judicial protection of individual rights and individual legal activism, within the field of public law, can be seen as an alternative or complement to electoral control of political and administrative powers. To discuss the effect of various standing rules and the potential societal function of public law adjudication, a model for analyzing the character of public law adjudication has been developed. The model allows for a characterization of public law adjudication as either Liberal or Republican, depending on features of standing rules, court proceedings, and court decisions. It concludes that judicial protection of individual rights and individual legal activism within the field of public law can be seen as an alternative or complement to electoral control of political and administrative powers, especially when public trust in, and the powers of, the legislative assembly and political parties is low and decreasing, and if the preconditions for individual legal activism are of such a character that access to justice is available to the larger public and not only a limited group of advantaged individuals.This theoretical framework is then used to analyse judicial protection of individual rights and individual legal activism in post-Socialist Russia. The results show that the Russian state is best described as authoritarian and that the traditional principal-agent relationship is weak. Thus, in order to strengthen the individual in relation to the state, alternatives for exercising control and participation are required. An analysis of the legislative framework, i.e., the law as it is laid down in the books, shows that Russian administrative law is rights-based and that the character of Russian public law adjudication is closer to the Republican model than the Liberal. However, the Russian support structure is still weak and finds itself in an increasingly inhospitable environment – legally, financially, and politically. In addition, this dissertation concludes that Russia’s membership in the CoE has had an impact on judicial protection of individual rights within the sphere of public law in terms of: improving the legislative framework; developing Russian court jurisprudence referring to the ECHR and to the jurisprudence of the ECtHR; exerting pressure on the Russian state to improve practices of the state bureaucracy; stimulating individual legal activism, and increasing individuals’ knowledge and awareness of their lawful rights and how to implement them.
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