Geoffrey T. Sigalet, Politics

Dialogue and Domination: Republicanism and ‘Dialogic’ Judicial Review

Wed, 04/20/2016
438 Robertson Hall
Event Category: 
Graduate Students

LEGS, or "Law-Engaged Graduate Students," meets during the academic year to discuss a work in progress by one of our Graduate Associates. At our next meeting, Geoff Sigalet will discuss "Dialogical Judicial Review." 

Abstract:  "In this paper I connect the metaphor of ‘dialogue’ concerning rights between courts and legislatures to republican political theory.  I argue that the three core concepts of contemporary republicanism legitimate two cultures of rights dialogue: the first is dialogue controlled by an elected judiciary and the second is legislatively controlled dialogue subject to three normative conditions.  Legislatively controlled rights dialogue must involve potential judicial interference that is (a) non-final, (b) transparent, and (c) rule-bound.  I suggest some tentative reasons for preferring legislatively controlled dialogue to that controlled by an elected judiciary.  On this view, rights dialogue that is controlled by an unelected judiciary results in conditions of domination.  To demonstrate this I first outline the three core concepts of republicanism: (1) freedom as non-domination, (2) the mixed constitution, and (3) the contestatory citizenry.  I then consider a disagreement in republican theory regarding the dominating quality of potential judicial interference in rights dialogues.  I reject arguments in favour of granting an unelected judiciary control over rights but also the thesis that potential judicial interference in rights dialogue is always dominating.  To properly demonstrate this I model different ways of organizing judicial review in a ‘Republican Condominium’.  I then explicate the three republican conditions of legislatively controlled dialogue.  I conclude by reflecting on how this argument may help to frame the normative evaluation of real-world cultures of rights-dialogue.  The ‘last word’ of the paper concerns the relation of the metaphor to the ‘last word’."   

Geoff Sigalet is a PhD. student in the Princeton department of Politics.  His subfields are Public Law, Political Theory, and Comparative Politics.  Geoff's dissertation focuses on developing a normative theory of dialogical or "weak" judicial review and constitutional interpretation.  In addition, he maintains a keen research interest in the History of Political Thought and serves as an Associate Editor of Interpretation: A Journal of Political Philosophy.  Before coming to Princeton Geoff earned his MA from McGill University (2011), writing his thesis on Aristotle's Nicomachean Ethics and Politics under the supervision of Prof. Christina Tarnopolsky.  At McGill he was a fellow of the McGill Research Group on Constitutional Studies.  Geoff earned his BA (Hons) in Political Science and Philosophy from the University of Alberta (2009).  During the summer of 2008 Geoff worked for Canadian Federal and Provincial Interests in Washington D.C. as the research assistant to former Ambassador  Paul Frazer.  He is an active member of both the American Political Science Association (APSA) and the Canadian Political Science Association (CPSA).     


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