(also known as the judicial
) is the system of
which interprets and applies the
in the name of the sovereign
. The judiciary also provides a
mechanism for the resolution of
. Under the doctrine of the separation of powers
, the judiciary
generally does not make law (that is, in a plenary fashion, which
is the responsibility of the legislature) or enforce law (which is
the responsibility of the executive), but rather interprets law and
applies it to the facts of each case.
This branch of government is often tasked with ensuring equal justice under law
. It usually
consists of a court of final appeal (called the "supreme court
" or "constitutional court
"), together with
The judicial branch has the power to change laws.
The term "judiciary" is also used to refer collectively to the
personnel, such as judges
and other adjudicators, who form the
core of a judiciary (sometimes referred to as a "bench
"), as well as the staffs who keep the
system running smoothly.
After the French Revolution
lawmakers prohibited any interpretation of law by judges, and the
legislature was the only body permitted to interpret the law; this
prohibition was later overturned by the Code Napoléon
In France, along with other countries that Napoleon had conquered,
or where there was a reception of the Civil Code approach, judges
once again assumed an important role, like their English
counterparts. In civil law jurisdictions at present, judges
interpret the law to about the same extent as in common law
jurisdictions – though it may be acknowledged in theory in a
different manner than in the common law tradition which directly
recognizes the limited power of judges to make law. For instance, in
France, the jurisprudence constante of the
Court of Cassation or
the Council of State is
equivalent in practice with case
In theory, in the French civil law tradition, a judge does not make
new law; he or she merely interprets the intents of "the Legislator
." The role of interpretation is
traditionally approached more conservatively in civil law
jurisdictions than in common law jurisdictions. When the law fails
to deal with a situation, doctrinal writers and not judges call for
legislative reform, though these legal scholars sometimes influence
- Cardozo, Benjamin N. (1998). The Nature of the Judicial
Process. New Haven: Yale University Press.
- Feinberg, Kenneth, Jack Kress, Gary McDowell, and Warren E.
Burger (1986). The High Cost and Effect of Litigation, 3
- Frank, Jerome (1985). Law and the Modern Mind.
Birmingham, AL: Legal Classics Library.
- Levi, Edward H. (1949) An Introduction to Legal
Reasoning. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.
- Marshall, Thurgood (2001). Thurgood Marshall: His Speeches,
Writings, Arguments, Opinions and Reminiscences. Chicago:
Lawrence Hill Books.
- McCloskey, Robert G., and Sanford Levinson (2005). The
American Supreme Court, 4th ed. Chicago: University of Chicago
- Miller, Arthur S. (1985). Politics, Democracy and the
Supreme Court: Essays on the Future of Constitutional Theory.
Westport, CT: Greenwood Press.
- Tribe, Laurence (1985). God Save This Honorable Court: How
the Choice of Supreme Court Justices Shapes Our History. New
York: Random House.
- Zelermyer, William (1977). The Legal System in
Operation. St. Paul, MN: West Publishing.
- Hamilton, Marci. God vs. the Gavel, page 296 (Cambridge
University Press 2005): “The symbol of the judicial system, seen in
courtrooms throughout the United States, is blindfolded Lady
- Fabri, Marco. The challenge of change for judicial
systems, page 137 (IOS Press 2000): “the judicial system
is intended to be apolitical, its symbol being that of a
blindfolded Lady Justice holding balanced scales.”
- Cappelletti, Mauro et al. The Italian Legal System, page 150
(Stanford University Press 1967).