n Acta Juridica - Dworkin : a viable theory of adjudication for the South African constitutional community?

Volume 2004, Issue 1
  • ISSN : 0065-1346
  • E-ISSN: 1996-2088



During the 1980s Ronald Dworkin's theory of adjudication became a powerful tool for critique of the performance of the South African judiciary, especially insofar as the interpretation of racist and security legislation was concerned. In particular, Etienne Mureinik used Dworkin's theory of integrity to argue that the foundational values upon which the legal system of South Africa had initially been predicated could be used to ameliorate the ravages of a racist and authoritarian legal system in which freedom and liberty lay at the whim of a policeman.

The essence of Mureinik's utilization of Dworkin's theory was the contention that the core of the South African legal system was still founded on certain fundamental values that promoted individual liberty and freedom. As he wrote, 'The courts have been quick in recent times to call rights fundamental, but slow to deliver on the promise of the label. They need urgently to be called to account, and it is one of integrity's most important challenges to do the calling.'

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