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Law Evenings Seminar 1

Do Courts Have a Future in the Age of Trump?

Presented by Dr Joe McIntyre, School of Law, University of South Australia


Wednesday 12 April, 2017


5:30pm to 7:30pm, refreshments provided


Bradley Forum, Level 5, Hawke Building
50-55 North Terrace, Adelaide, UniSA City West Campus

Ian Leader Elliott

The election of Donald Trump in November 2016 shattered expectations of how our social institutions work. Building on the shock of Brexit, a wave of populist, anti-establishment, anti-elitist, post-fact sentiment seems to have swept much of the world. What does this mean for our most substantial bulwark against populism, our courts?

Courts are anti-majoritarian. Judges are unelected. Law is irreducibly complex. Courts can frustrate the Governments agenda, yet possesses neither the power of the sword nor the purse to protect themselves. This leaves courts vulnerable - both to the direct cry of the ideologue and the subtle ministrations of ‘efficiency’. Ultimately, the judiciary depends upon public confidence to perform its role. At a time when courts are increasingly inaccessible for the population and when civic understanding of the role of courts is low, that confidence is imperilled.

While there have already been a number of deeply concerning interactions between the Trump Administration and the courts, the issue goes far beyond the US border. The disruption and social unease that Trump represents resonates in Australia. The Age of Trump represents a challenge to our courts. If they are to have a future, that future cannot be taken for granted.

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