8 - Historical references  pp. 195-213

Historical references

By Pierre Rosanvallon and Arthur Goldhammer

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The Greek example

Aristotle writes: “A citizen in the strictest sense … shares in the administration of justice and in offices.” More specifically, a citizen is one who exercises the functions of a juror (dikastes) and who participates in the assembly (ekklesiastes). For the author of Politics, judging and voting are inextricable aspects of citizenship. The tribunal of the people (dikasteria) and the assembly of the people (ekklesia) were both central institutions of Athenian democracy; they complemented each other. Some six thousand citizens came together in the assembly thirty or forty times a year to make decisions about domestic and foreign policy. In the tribunals, juries of 201, 401, or 501 individuals chosen by lot settled disputes over both public and private actions. Both institutions allowed for direct, active participation in civic life.

The relation between these two functions becomes clearer when we look at the activities in which the Athenian tribunals engaged – activities that were fairly political in nature. The difference between their role and the role of courts of justice in a modern democracy is immediately apparent. In our political systems, the courts are responsible for resolving civil disputes and judging criminal cases. These matters take up most of their time. There is, to be sure, a more political side of judicial activity: for instance, in resolving disputes between citizens and government agencies and, still more, in judicial review of the constitutionality of laws (where such procedures exist).

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Carlos Miguel Pimentel, La Main invisible du juge: L'Origine des trois pouvoirs et la théorie des régimes politiques, thesis, Université de Paris II, 2000
Charles Howard Mac Ilwain, The High Court of Parliament and its Supremacy: An Historical Essay on the Boundaries Between Legislation and Adjudication in England, new ed. (Hamden, CT: Archon Books, 1962)
Denis Baranger, Parlementarisme des origines: Essai sur les conditions de formation d'un exécutif responsable en Angleterre (Paris: Presses Universitaires de France, 1999)
Douglas M. MacDowell, Athenian Homicide Law in the Age of the Orators (Manchester University Press, 1963)
Edith M. Phelps, ed., Selected Articles on the Recall, Including the Recall of Judges and Judicial Decisions, 2nd edn, revised (New York: The Wilson Company, 1915)
Frederick L. Bird and Frances M. Ryan, The Recall of Public Officers: A Study of the Operation of the Recall in California (New York: The Macmillan Company, 1930)
James Duff Barnett, The Operation of the Initiative, Referendum and Recall in Oregon (New York: Macmillan, 1915)
Jean Beauté, Un grand juriste anglais: Sir Edward Coke (1552–1634). Ses idées politiques et constitutionnelles (Paris: Presses Universitaires de France, 1975)
Jennifer Tolbert Roberts, Accountability in Athenian Government (Madison: The University of Wisconsin Press, 1982)
John G. Bellamy, The Law of Treason in England in the later Middle Ages (Cambridge University Press, 1970)
John Philipps Kenyon, The Stuart Constitution, 1603–1688: Documents and Commentary (Cambridge University Press, 1966)
Jon Elster, “Accountability in Athenian Politics,” in Adam Przeworski, Susan Stokes, and Bernard Marin, eds., Democracy, Accountability, Representation (Cambridge University Press, 1999)
Joseph F. Zimmerman, The Recall: Tribunal of the People (Westport, CT: Praeger, 1997)
Kenneth P. Miller, “The Davis Recall and the Courts,” American Politics Research 33, no. 2 (March 2005): 140
Larry N. Gerston and Terry Christensen, Recall! California's Political Earthquake (Armonk, NY: M. E. Sharpe, 2004)
Martin Ostwald, From Popular Sovereignty to the Sovereignty of Law: Law, Society and Politics in Fifth-Century Athens (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1986)
Michael J. Gerhardt, The Federal Impeachment Process: A Constitutional and Historical Analysis (Princeton University Press, 1996)
Mogens Herman Hansen, “Pouvoirs politiques du tribunal du peuple à Athènes au IVe siècle”, in Oswyn Murray and Simon Price, La Cité grecque d'Homère à Alexandre (Paris: La Découverte, 1992)
Mogens Herman Hansen, Eisangelia. The Sovereignty of the People's Court in Athens in the Fourth Century BC and the Impeachment of Generals and Politicians (Odense University Press, 1975)
Mogens Herman Hansen, The Sovereignty of the People's Court in Athens in the Fourth Century BC and the Public Action against Unconstitutional Proposals (Odense University Press, 1974)
Richard A. Bauman, Political Trials in Ancient Greece (London: Routledge, 1990)
Ron Christenson, Political Trials in History, from Antiquity to the Present (New Brunswick: Transaction Publishers, 1991)
Theodore Franck and Thomas Plucknett, “The Origin of Impeachment,” Transactions of the Royal Historical Society 24 (1942), pp. 70–71
Thomas E. Cronin, Direct Democracy: The Politics of Initiative, Referendum and Recall (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1995)