Book Review: Judging the Judges, Judging Ourselves


It is an irrefutable fact that South African judges were thoroughly complicit in the injustices perpetrated by the apartheid regime. According to David Dyzenhaus, a native of South Africa and a Professor in Law and Philosophy at the University of Toronto, judges participated in the “ordinary violence” of racist law which confined a vast segment of the population to subservient status and condemned them to abominable life choices. They also facilitated the “extraordinary violence” of murder, abduction, torture and general mistreatment of black South Africans. As Dyzenhaus convincingly argues in his remarkable Judging the Judges, Judging Ourselves,’ the widespread dereliction of duty characteristic of apartheid judges affirmed the unjust South African regime, and effectively helped make possible the individual incidences of terror regularly perpetrated in the service of apartheid. However, it is what judges failed to do, as opposed to what they actually did, that is Dyzenhaus’s ultimate focus.

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