The Value of Judicial Diversity

Fundamentals of Natural Justice

One of the fundamental principles of natural justice is the requirements that not only must justice be done but also be seen to be done. Accordingly, judges must not just be impartial but also be seen to be impartial.

The legitimacy of a judicial decision is solely dependent on public perception and confidence in the decision-making process. When the range of the people who sit to hear and determine a case fail to reflect the nature of the society they serve, the likely impression would be that the judges will not be impartial or may not consider the community understanding of the particular values involved.

This is not to suggest that judges should be selected based solely on their diverse origins. Judicial officers are meant to be thoroughly learned; after going through a rigorous legal training so that they possess a tremendous erudition on matters of law.

When qualified candidates from minority groups are moved to occupy positions traditionally monopolized by non-diverse candidates, the benefits of decisions made by such a bench go beyond the particular cases.

Judicial Precedence

The mere fact that a court is bound by its precedents does not guarantee that its decisions will be just. As a matter of fact, adherent to precedents has a history of perpetuating injustices from one generation to the next. If the Supreme Court made a decision, which did not reflect the values of a certain community, all subsequent judgments on the same issue will refer to the initial unjust judgment and propagate the impunity.

The society might have suffered irreparable damage by the time the court overturns the precedent upon realizing how it undermines some basic values. When setting original precedents, the courts needs to get it right from the beginning.

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