Author Archives: Wibo van Rossum

Wibo van Rossum

About Wibo van Rossum

Wibo van Rossum is legal sociologist and - anthropologist. He studied law at the University of Amsterdam. He worked as PhD student and post doc researcher at the School of Law of the University of Amsterdam and as a researcher at Erasmus University Rotterdam. He works at Utrecht University School of Law since 2007.

Politicians, sore losers?

Leonie BlogThe division of power between the legislator – represented by ‘the political’ – and the judge – represented by ‘the legal’ – is a centuries-old dilemma. The question on which position both powers take in the constitutional context is an everyday reality for the (constitutional) lawyer. The balance between these powers often turns into a tense relationship – a tension that becomes especially tangible after courts important judgments, such as the Urgenda case. Cases seem increasingly to end up in court because politicians have no answer to the issues at hand. If in such a case a court makes a  decision, then politicians are eager to emphasise that the court has illegitimately taken up the role of the democratically elected legislator  and that it is up to the people to make a decision; not the court. The question, however, is whether this criticism is always justified. Do politicians indeed try to protect the institutional balance as set out in the Constitution? Or do they act as sore losers, looking for a scapegoat for their own failure? Continue reading

Should we be happy with a pesky hornet? On the querulant and his unintended, unexpected but desirable functions

francisco_de_goya_y_lucientes_-_the_dream_of_reason_brings_forth_monsters_-_google_art_projectWhile researching the challenge procedures (publication, ‘Wraking bottom-up’ in 2012 and the current research into the ‘pilot externe wrakingskamer’) I became interested in the querulant. Querulants, in my opinion, challenge a judge more often than other citizens. They are also partly classified by this characteristic. Erhard Blankenburg has previously said that with querulants a shift occurs from a conflict about the case, to a conflict over procedures. The big complaint of the querulant, which is also exactly the reason for his perseverance, is that his complaints are rejected by ‘corrupt officials and judges’ without giving him a ‘decent chance’ to tell his story. The procedure no longer legitimizes, according to Blankenburg with a reference to Niklas Luhmann (Legitimation durch Verfahren, Neuwied 1969). The procedure relieves us at some point “from the obligation of having to argue about the fairness of standards” (Blankenburg 2004:15), while repeated subjectively perceived injustice – perfection does not exist in the daily reality of the law – leads to a pathological complainer. Continue reading