: Blackstone, Lord Mansfield, and Common-Law Liberalism

in The Cloaking of Power

Published by University of Chicago Press

Published in print June 2003 | ISBN: 9780226094823
Published online March 2013 | e-ISBN: 9780226094830 | DOI:
: Blackstone, Lord Mansfield, and Common-Law Liberalism

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This chapter discusses a new notion by Blackstone about judicial power in British constitutionalism as the moderating, tempering element that ensures individual liberty and tranquility. Judges are not visionary oracles of humane progress toward a later stage of societal evolution as considered by Blackstone, they either exercises self-restraint so as to allow the majority to evolve as it wills, or nudging society along a higher path. The link of Blackstone's analyses of legislative and executive power is the historical, constitutionalist lesson that moderation or balance, never extremes, is the best way to secure both political and civil liberty. Lastly, Blackstone's conception of judging includes the declaratory principle that judges claim not to make law but to indicate what the law is, knowing that on appeal or by statute their judgment can be declared erroneous.

Keywords: Blackstone; judicial power; liberty; tranquility; judges; self-restraint; law

Chapter.  12704 words. 

Subjects: Political Theory

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