The Politics of the Judiciary
By JAG Griffith
Review by Katie P (Law)
The Politics of the Judiciary was a book I picked up on a whim in my sixth form’s library, thinking it looked more interesting and less intimidating than many others. This was during the writing of my personal statement, when I was almost certain that my decision to apply for Law was the right one but still had lingering doubts. One thing that put me off a little was how dense and technical some of the books I attempted to read (and never finished) were, and while this book is reasonably dense it is also much more pleasant to read than a lot of standard “introductory” texts. Of course, this book is not and was never intended to be an “introduction to law,” instead being a discussion of politics in relation to judges, and criticism of both of them. It is perhaps of less direct relevance to your studies than learning the structure of the courts or how to read a case, but if you are just reading around the subject and seeing if you like it, this book is certainly a more interesting way of doing so.
The book was controversial in its time, and it is important to be aware of the political bias that is unavoidable in a book of this type. Griffith was a huge critic of the judiciary, largely influenced by radical socialism and especially critical of the elitism that he felt rendered judges unable to properly respond to many social justice issues. It is also worth noting the age of the book, as it was first published in 1977. While full of examples and statistics, none of these can be considered up to date, so if a particular issue really catches your attention it may be worth looking up articles or more modern interpretations. I read the book the whole way through, but perhaps a better way to read it would be to skim to points that really interest you and use it as a springboard for further exploration. The writing style is quite easy to get on with but there are lots of statistics and technical language in the numerous examples and situations described, meaning that if you are just reading the book it is easy to forget most of the specifics.
This book is more accessible than many others, and far less daunting despite being fairly long. It is well worth reading if you are interested in the political side of the law, keeping aware that the book is old and doesn’t pretend to be objective. You may not agree with all that is said, but it is an interesting place to start developing your own opinions about a topic that may be totally new to you – it was to me!
The Politics of the Judiciary by JAG Griffith