Publications

This is a searchable catalogue of the College's most recent books and working papers. Other papers and publications can be found on SSRN and the ANU Researchers database.

Breaking the Constitutional Deadlock: Lessons from Deliberative Experiments in Constitutional Change

Author(s): Ron Levy

This work provides comparative insights into how deliberation on proposed constitutional amendments might be more effectively pursued. It reports on a new nationwide survey of public attitudes to constitutional reform, examining the potential in Australia of innovative Canadian models of reform led by Citizens’ Assemblies. Assembly members are selected at random and are demographically representative of the wider public. They deliberate over reforms for several months while receiving instruction from experts in relevant fields. Members thus become ‘public-experts’: citizens who stand in for the wider public but are versed in constitutional fundamentals. The author finds striking empirical evidence that, if applied in the Australian context, public trust would be substantially greater for Citizens’ Assemblies compared with traditional processes of change.

The article sets these results in context, reading the Assemblies against theories of deliberative democracy and public trust. One reason for greater public trust in the Assemblies’ may be an ability to accommodate key values that are otherwise in conflict: majoritarian democratic legitimacy, on the one hand, and fair and well-informed (or ‘deliberatively rational’) decision-making, on the other. Previously, almost no other poll had asked exactly how much Australians trust in constitutional change. However, by resolving trust into a set of discrete public values, the polling and analysis in this work provide evidence that constitutional reform might only succeed when it expresses, at once, the values of both majoritarian and deliberative democracy.

Read on SSRN

Centre: CIPL, DGAL

Research theme: Constitutional Law and Theory, Human Rights Law and Policy, Law, Governance and Development

Regulating Impartiality: Electoral-Boundary Politics in the Administrative Arena

Author(s): Ron Levy

The author examines impartiality in cases of politically contentious decision making. Many jurisdictions delegate decisions over matters such as the establishment of fair election ground rules to independent bodies. Some of these bodies, including Canada's Federal Electoral Boundaries Commissions (FEBCs), attract widespread trust and are by most accounts substantially impartial. In contrast, commissions empanelled to draw electoral boundaries in the United States, and to a lesser extent in certain Canadian provinces, are often plagued by partisanship.

The author canvasses approaches to controlling partisanship, relying on a series of interviews conducted with boundaries commissioners and on interdisciplinary literature on trust and trustworthiness in governance. Commentators often favour bolstering formal constraints on FEBC discretion. However, the author concludes that traditional administrative law models favouring such constraints are often inadequate. In politically sensitive cases these methods frequently catalyse partisanship. Proposals for more nuanced design -- design sensitive to the complex interactions between law and administrative culture in cases where the potential for partisanship is high - are better but rarer. The author focuses in particular on the use of ambiguity in legal and institutional design. Although this approach is counterintuitive in light of rule-of-law assumptions favouring clarity, it has nevertheless gained traction in commentary and has long been at work in practice. The author argues that extensively ambiguous design, as displayed by the complex federal readjustment processes in Canada, has helped to develop the widely admired impartial decision-making cultures of the FEBCs.

Read on SSRN

Centre: CIPL, DGAL

Research theme: Constitutional Law and Theory, Human Rights Law and Policy, Law, Governance and Development

Regulating Impartiality: Electoral Boundary Politics in the Administrative Arena

Author(s): Ron Levy

The author examines impartiality in cases of politically contentious decision making. Many jurisdictions delegate decisions over matters such as the establishment of fair election ground rules to independent bodies. Some of these bodies, including Canada's Federal Electoral Boundaries Commissions (FEBCs), attract widespread trust and are by most accounts substantially impartial. In contrast, commissions empanelled to draw electoral boundaries in the United States, and to a lesser extent in certain Canadian provinces, are often plagued by partisanship.

The author canvasses approaches to controlling partisanship, relying on a series of interviews conducted with boundaries commissioners and on interdisciplinary literature on trust and trustworthiness in governance. Commentators often favour bolstering formal constraints on FEBC discretion. However, the author concludes that traditional administrative law models favouring such constraints are often inadequate. In politically sensitive cases these methods frequently catalyze partisanship. Proposals for more nuanced design - design sensitive to the complex interactions between law and administrative culture in cases where the potential for partisanship is high - are better but rarer. The author focuses in particular on the use of ambiguity in legal and institutional design. Although this approach is counterintuitive in light of rule-of-law assumptions favouring clarity, it has nevertheless gained traction in commentary and has long been at work in practice. The author argues that extensively ambiguous design, as displayed by the complex federal readjustment processes in Canada, has helped to develop the widely admired impartial decision-making cultures of the FEBCs.

Read on SSRN

Centre: CIPL, DGAL

Research theme: Constitutional Law and Theory, Human Rights Law and Policy, Law, Governance and Development

Regulating Impartiality: Electoral Boundary Politics in the Administrative Arena

Author(s): Ron Levy

The author examines impartiality in cases of politically contentious decision making. Many jurisdictions delegate decisions over matters such as the establishment of fair election ground rules to independent bodies. Some of these bodies, including Canada's Federal Electoral Boundaries Commissions (FEBCs), attract widespread trust and are by most accounts substantially impartial. In contrast, commissions empanelled to draw electoral boundaries in the United States, and to a lesser extent in certain Canadian provinces, are often plagued by partisanship.

The author canvasses approaches to controlling partisanship, relying on a series of interviews conducted with boundaries commissioners and on interdisciplinary literature on trust and trustworthiness in governance. Commentators often favour bolstering formal constraints on FEBC discretion. However, the author concludes that traditional administrative law models favouring such constraints are often inadequate. In politically sensitive cases these methods frequently catalyze partisanship. Proposals for more nuanced design - design sensitive to the complex interactions between law and administrative culture in cases where the potential for partisanship is high - are better but rarer. The author focuses in particular on the use of ambiguity in legal and institutional design. Although this approach is counterintuitive in light of rule-of-law assumptions favouring clarity, it has nevertheless gained traction in commentary and has long been at work in practice. The author argues that extensively ambiguous design, as displayed by the complex federal readjustment processes in Canada, has helped to develop the widely admired impartial decision-making cultures of the FEBCs.

Read on SSRN

Centre: CIPL, DGAL

Research theme: Constitutional Law and Theory, Human Rights Law and Policy, Law, Governance and Development

Judicial Selection: Trust and Reform

Author(s): Ron Levy

The Ad Hoc Committee to Review a Nominee for the Supreme Court of Canada held unprecedented public hearings in advance of the appointment of Justice Marshall Rothstein to the Court. The author assesses the work of the Committee using the interdisciplinary literature on assorted institutional design models and their effects on public trust and decision-maker trustworthiness. This literature can inform efforts to ensure that judicial selectors select, or aspire to select, new justices impartially. The Committee adopted a comparatively ineffective and risky model of democratization that relies on accountability tools such as political party dýtente. Past examples suggest that an alternative approach is preferable: Reforms should focus not on increasing accountability for selections but on building trust and trustworthiness in selections. The author offers specific recommendations to enhance trust and trustworthiness in the selection process using a permanent Supreme Court of Canada appointments body. The body proposed can enable robust rather than token levels of public involvement while preserving or broadening judicial independence.

Read on SSRN

Centre: CIPL, DGAL

Research theme: Constitutional Law and Theory, Human Rights Law and Policy, Law, Governance and Development

Judicial Selection: Trust and Reform

Author(s): Ron Levy

The Ad Hoc Committee to Review a Nominee for the Supreme Court of Canada held unprecedented public hearings in advance of the appointment of Justice Marshall Rothstein to the Court. The author assesses the work of the Committee using the interdisciplinary literature on assorted institutional design models and their effects on public trust and decision-maker trustworthiness. This literature can inform efforts to ensure that judicial selectors select, or aspire to select, new justices impartially. The Committee adopted a comparatively ineffective and risky model of democratization that relies on accountability tools such as political party dýtente. Past examples suggest that an alternative approach is preferable: Reforms should focus not on increasing accountability for selections but on building trust and trustworthiness in selections. The author offers specific recommendations to enhance trust and trustworthiness in the selection process using a permanent Supreme Court of Canada appointments body. The body proposed can enable robust rather than token levels of public involvement while preserving or broadening judicial independence.

Read on SSRN

Centre: CIPL, DGAL

Research theme: Constitutional Law and Theory, Human Rights Law and Policy, Law, Governance and Development

Pages

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