"Regulating Impartiality: Electoral Boundary Politics in the Administrative Arena"

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Title "Regulating Impartiality: Electoral Boundary Politics in the Administrative Arena"
Author Levy, Ron
Journal Name McGill Law Journal
Year Published 2008
Place of publication Montreal, Canada
Publisher McGill Law Journal of Canada
Abstract The author examines impartiality in cases of politically contentious decision making. Many jurisdictions delegate decisions over matters such as the establishment of fair election ground rules to independent bodies. Some of these bodies, including Canada’s Federal Electoral Boundaries Commissions (FEBCs), attract widespread trust and are by most accounts substantially impartial. In contrast, commissions empanelled to draw electoral boundaries in the United States, and to a lesser extent in certain Canadian provinces, are often plagued by partisanship. The author canvasses approaches to controlling partisanship, relying on a series of interviews conducted with boundaries commissioners and on interdisciplinary literature on trust and trustworthiness in governance. Commentators often favour bolstering formal constraints on FEBC discretion. However, the author concludes that traditional administrativelaw models favouring such constraints are often inadequate. In politically sensitive cases these methods frequently catalyze partisanship. Proposals for more nuanced design—design sensitive to the complex interactions between law and administrative culture in cases where the potential for partisanship is high—are better but rarer. The author focuses in particular on the use of ambiguity in legal and institutional design. Although this approach is counterintuitive in light of rule-of-law assumptions favouring clarity, it has nevertheless gained traction in commentary and has long been at work in practice. The author argues that extensively ambiguous design, as displayed by the complex federal readjustment processes in Canada, has helped to develop the widely admired impartial decision-making cultures of the FEBCs.
Peer Reviewed Yes
Published Yes
Publisher URI http://lawjournal.mcgill.ca/
Alternative URI http://lawjournal.mcgill.ca/documents/Levy.pdf
Copyright Statement Self-archiving of the author-manuscript version is not yet supported by this journal. Please refer to the journal link for access to the definitive, published version or contact the authors for more information.
Volume 53
Issue Number 1
Page from 1
Page to 57
ISSN 0024-9041
Date Accessioned 2009-01-21
Language en_US
Faculty Arts, Education and Law
Subject Administrative Law; Comparative Law; Constitutional Law; Legal Institutions (incl Courts and Justice Systems)
URI http://hdl.handle.net/10072/23221
Publication Type Journal Articles (Refereed Article)
Publication Type Code c1

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