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De svenska domstolarnas ökade makt - ett problem?

Zandieh, Sarah LU (2015) JURM02 20151
Department of Law
Abstract
The foundation of territorially legitimated politics lies in the principle of sovereignty. These have been forced to retreat/stand back to the global processes of change, which have been shaping the world around us during recent decades. One of these processes is judicalization where an increasing number of politically important questions are determined by courts and other judicial organs rather than political instances. While the legitimacy of norms such as democracy and human rights is increasing in supranationell politics, the principle of sovereignty is concurrently decreasing in favour of judicialization since these norms primarily being interpreted by lawyers. Along with this a discussion emerges concerning distribution of... (More)
The foundation of territorially legitimated politics lies in the principle of sovereignty. These have been forced to retreat/stand back to the global processes of change, which have been shaping the world around us during recent decades. One of these processes is judicalization where an increasing number of politically important questions are determined by courts and other judicial organs rather than political instances. While the legitimacy of norms such as democracy and human rights is increasing in supranationell politics, the principle of sovereignty is concurrently decreasing in favour of judicialization since these norms primarily being interpreted by lawyers. Along with this a discussion emerges concerning distribution of competences of the official organs as well as the question of separation of powers versus a unitary state. In Sweden we have a strong tradition of safeguarding popular sovereignty and consequently the role of the courts has been unobtrusive and subordinate. Hence, when the balance of power is disturbed the issue of separation of powers becomes clear.

It is clear that Sweden no longer is a heterogeneous unitary state where legislation and adjudication is entrusted to Swedish institutions. The politicization of law and the judicialization of politics are slowly merging and more questions and conflicts of interest are being transferred from the tables of the political assemblies to the courts.
As a effect of the judicialization the courts sometimes go against democratic decisions by referring to supraordinate norms and principles of the rule of law. Persons who are non-democratically elected are making an increasing number of politically sensitive decisions. Thereby, courts have been given an increasingly important role to interpret and value the European rules against the Swedish system. The European rules are individual-based, more abstract and generically designed. Hence, to be given substance they must be interpreted for each individual case. This freedom of interpretation that emerges causes a clear between the Swedish tradition of a strong popular sovereignty principle and the ongoing Europeanization of the legal sphere.

In Sweden today, the human rights norm is strongly protected through our EU membership and the European Convention. This protection is founded in several legal systems that are interlinked however without clear boundaries. Sometimes uncertainty and conflict of norms arise when these legal instruments of different character interact with each other. This plural legal image has contributed to a dynamic legal development and while the states have concurrently lost some of their sovereignty of fundamental rights the individual’s fundamental rights have been reinforced by the EU´s definition of the concept, which is wider then what is normally perceived as human rights.The problems that emerged in Sweden when a strong popular sovereignty principle is to co-exist with fundamental rights and freedoms were clearly demonstrated by the discussions and problems that arose in conjunction with the incorporation of the European Convention.
Some say that the new constitutional state, in fact, is a direct violation of the democratic foundation while others see the development as a consequence of a stronger democracy.

The consequences of the Swedish courts’ increased powers are multiple. In certain cases politicians relinquish controversial political issues to the courts. Hence, an increasing number of difficult situations requiring decision-taking arise and when the legislator fails to address these unsustainable or unclear legal situations emerge which require piece-by-piece corrections by the courts. Some of these situations cannot be solved without legislative changes, as they are purely systematical issues.
This power-shift to the courts may also come to be at the expense of democracy where judicial governance can undermine decisions taken by those elected democratically. In some cases this is to the advantage of individuals with stronger resources where the processes become extensive and expensive. It becomes more difficult for the common person to penetrate a resource consuming and complex framework of practice. The power of the courts have also become more restricted in a sense as the regulations have become more specialized, hence requiring expertise in an increasingly complex society.

Some believe that the Swedish Supreme Court has become more offensive especially regarding freedoms and rights resulting from the effects of decreasing political discretion. The courts have been affected by the existing European Law discretion, in turn, influencing the domestic courts such as in the Manga verdict. Others opine that just because a ruling has extensive consequences it is not necessarily mean that it is equivalent to court activism. The answer is perhaps more a question of judicial theory, and that a normative theory of interpretation is needed to answer the question.
All judges are however not fully comfortable with the increasing power of the courts, which is apparent in several early cases of the Swedish European Law where the courts have been opposing the development rather than a driving force.
According to some, the function of the courts is to guard democracy and watch over so that the legislator does not violate the Constitution in order to keep the individual protected against the power apparatus of the state. The courts can actually increase their legitimacy if they act when the legislator has “abdicated”.

Neither are the courts free from ideology. They also obtain a greater responsibility than solely maintaining the ideals of the rule of law as they actually make concrete choices in complex situations of adjudication. Society and law are not disengaged from each other and law is not free from value regardless of where it is situated. Many of the changes occurring today are in form of liberalization and adjustments towards the global economy, however exclusive of an ideological compass. Previously legal reforms where implemented with a clear ideology behind. Today however, no one can really say which ideology is behind the changes that occur. (Less)
Abstract (Swedish)
Den territoriellt förankrade politiken har sin grund i suveränitetsprincipen som idag alltmer får stå tillbaka för de globala förändringsprocesser som har präglat vår omvärld de senaste decennierna. Judikaliseringen är en av dessa processer där allt fler politiskt viktiga frågor avgörs av domstolar och andra judiciella organ istället för av politiska instanser. När normer som demokrati och mänskliga rättigheter har fått en allt starkare övernationell politisk legitimitet så har suveränitetsprincipen samtidigt gradvis försvagats till förmån för judikaliseringen då det är juristerna som främst tolkar dessa normer. I samband med detta uppstår en diskussion om de offentliga organens kompetensfördelning och frågan om maktdelning kontra... (More)
Den territoriellt förankrade politiken har sin grund i suveränitetsprincipen som idag alltmer får stå tillbaka för de globala förändringsprocesser som har präglat vår omvärld de senaste decennierna. Judikaliseringen är en av dessa processer där allt fler politiskt viktiga frågor avgörs av domstolar och andra judiciella organ istället för av politiska instanser. När normer som demokrati och mänskliga rättigheter har fått en allt starkare övernationell politisk legitimitet så har suveränitetsprincipen samtidigt gradvis försvagats till förmån för judikaliseringen då det är juristerna som främst tolkar dessa normer. I samband med detta uppstår en diskussion om de offentliga organens kompetensfördelning och frågan om maktdelning kontra enhetsstat. I Sverige har vi en stark tradition att värna om folksuveräniteten och domstolarna har därför haft en tillbakadragen och underordnad roll.
Maktdelningsproblematiken blir därför tydlig när maktbalansen rubbas.

Det är tydligt att Sverige inte längre är en heterogen enhetsstat där lagstiftning och dömande anförtros svenska institutioner. Politiseringen av juridiken och judikaliseringen av politiken flyter ihop och fler frågor och intressekonflikter överförs från de politiska församlingarnas bord till domstolarna. Följden av judikaliseringen blir att domstolar ibland går emot demokratiskt fattade beslut, med hänvisning till överordnade normer och rättsstatliga principer. Fler politiskt känsliga beslut fattas av personer som inte är folkvalda. Domstolarna har därmed fått en allt viktigare roll med att tolka och värdera de europeiska reglerna mot det svenska systemet. De europeiska reglerna är individbaserade, mer abstrakta och generellt utformade och för att ges innehåll måste de tolkas i det enskilda fallet. Detta tolkningsutrymme som uppstår orsakar ett tydligt spänningsförhållande mellan den svenska traditionen av en stark folksuveränitetsnorm och den pågående europeiseringen av rättslivet.

Idag finns det ett starkt skydd för den mänskliga rättighetsnormen i Sverige genom vårt medlemskap i EU och i Europakonventionen. Skyddet bygger på flera olika rättsordningar som är sammanlänkade med varandra men utan helt klara gränser. När dessa rättsliga instrument med skilda karaktärer ska interagera med varandra uppstår ibland normkonflikter och en viss osäkerhet. Denna plurala rättsbild har bidragit till en dynamisk rättsutveckling och samtidigt som staternas rättsordningar har förlorat en del av sin suveränitet så har den enskildes grundläggande rättigheter stärkts bland annat av EU:s definition av begreppet som är bredare än vad som normalt avses med mänskliga rättigheter. Diskussionerna och problemen som uppstod i samband med inkorporeringen av Europakonventionen visar tydligt på de problem som uppstått i Sverige när en stark folksuveränitetsprincip ska samsas med grundläggande fri- och rättigheter. Vissa menar att den nya rättsstaten innebär en direkt inkräktning på det demokratiska fundamentet samtidigt som andra ser utvecklingen som ett led i stärkt demokrati.

Konsekvenserna av domstolarnas ökade makt är flera. Politikerna släpper i vissa fall ifrån sig kontroversiella politiska frågor till domstolarna. Därmed uppstår allt fler svåra situationer med beslut som måste fattas och när lagstiftaren inte tar itu med dessa leder det till ohållbara eller oklara rättslägen som domstolen får till uppgift att korrigera bit för bit. Vissa av dessa situationer går inte lösa utan lagändringar och är rena systemfrågor.
Maktförskjutningen till domstolarna kan också bli på bekostnad av demokratin där ett domarstyre kan undergräva de folkvaldas beslut. Detta sker ibland till de resursstarkare individernas fördel där processerna kan bli omfattande och dyra. Det blir svårare för gemene man att genomskåda ett resurskrävande och snårigt regelverk av praxis. Domstolarnas makt har också blivit mer begränsad på ett sätt då regelverken blivit mer specialiserade och därmed kräver specialkompetens i ett alltmer komplext samhälle.

Vissa anser att HD har blivit mer offensiv och främst gällande grundläggande fri- och rättigheter på grund av effekten av politikernas minskade handlingsutrymme. Domstolen har påverkats av det europarättsliga handlingsutrymmet så finns och därmed har detta “smittat av sig” på den inhemska rätten i mål som Mangadomen. Andra menar att bara för att ett avgörande får långtgående konsekvenser betyder detta inte att det är detsamma som domstolsaktivism. Svaret är kanske mer rättsteoretiskt och att det behövs en normativ tolkningsteori för att kunna besvara frågan.

Alla domare är dock inte helt bekväma med den ökade domstolsmakten och detta syns i ett flertal tidiga rättsfall i den svenska europarätten där domstolarna snarare varit motarbetande än pådrivande i utvecklingen.
Domstolen ska enligt vissa fungera som demokratins väktare och vaka över att lagstiftaren inte överträder konstitutionen för att upprätthålla ett skydd för individen gentemot statens maktapparat. Domstolens legitimitet kan till och med stärkas om den ingriper när lagstiftaren har dragit benen efter sig.

Domarna är inte heller helt ideologiskt fria. De har också ett större ansvar än att enbart upprätthålla de rättsstatliga idealen då de faktiskt gör konkreta val i svåra rättstillämpningssituationer. Samhället och juridiken är inte frikopplade från varandra och juridiken är inte värderingsfri oavsett var den befinner sig. Många av de förändringar som har skett idag har varit i form av liberalisering och anpassning till den globala ekonomin men utan någon medveten ideologisk kompass. Tidigare genomfördes rättspolitiska reformer med en tydlig ideologi bakom men idag vet egentligen ingen vilken ideologi som kan sägas stå bakom de förändringar som sker. (Less)
Please use this url to cite or link to this publication:
author
Zandieh, Sarah LU
supervisor
organization
alternative title
The increased power of the Swedish courts - a problem?
course
JURM02 20151
year
type
H3 - Professional qualifications (4 Years - )
subject
keywords
Constitutional law, Rättsvetenskap, Statsrätt, Konstitutionell rätt, Offentlig rätt
language
Swedish
id
7448033
date added to LUP
2015-07-22 14:28:10
date last changed
2015-07-22 14:28:10
@misc{7448033,
  abstract     = {The foundation of territorially legitimated politics lies in the principle of sovereignty. These have been forced to retreat/stand back to the global processes of change, which have been shaping the world around us during recent decades. One of these processes is judicalization where an increasing number of politically important questions are determined by courts and other judicial organs rather than political instances. While the legitimacy of norms such as democracy and human rights is increasing in supranationell politics, the principle of sovereignty is concurrently decreasing in favour of judicialization since these norms primarily being interpreted by lawyers. Along with this a discussion emerges concerning distribution of competences of the official organs as well as the question of separation of powers versus a unitary state. In Sweden we have a strong tradition of safeguarding popular sovereignty and consequently the role of the courts has been unobtrusive and subordinate. Hence, when the balance of power is disturbed the issue of separation of powers becomes clear.

It is clear that Sweden no longer is a heterogeneous unitary state where legislation and adjudication is entrusted to Swedish institutions. The politicization of law and the judicialization of politics are slowly merging and more questions and conflicts of interest are being transferred from the tables of the political assemblies to the courts. 
As a effect of the judicialization the courts sometimes go against democratic decisions by referring to supraordinate norms and principles of the rule of law. Persons who are non-democratically elected are making an increasing number of politically sensitive decisions. Thereby, courts have been given an increasingly important role to interpret and value the European rules against the Swedish system. The European rules are individual-based, more abstract and generically designed. Hence, to be given substance they must be interpreted for each individual case. This freedom of interpretation that emerges causes a clear between the Swedish tradition of a strong popular sovereignty principle and the ongoing Europeanization of the legal sphere.

In Sweden today, the human rights norm is strongly protected through our EU membership and the European Convention. This protection is founded in several legal systems that are interlinked however without clear boundaries. Sometimes uncertainty and conflict of norms arise when these legal instruments of different character interact with each other. This plural legal image has contributed to a dynamic legal development and while the states have concurrently lost some of their sovereignty of fundamental rights the individual’s fundamental rights have been reinforced by the EU´s definition of the concept, which is wider then what is normally perceived as human rights.The problems that emerged in Sweden when a strong popular sovereignty principle is to co-exist with fundamental rights and freedoms were clearly demonstrated by the discussions and problems that arose in conjunction with the incorporation of the European Convention.
Some say that the new constitutional state, in fact, is a direct violation of the democratic foundation while others see the development as a consequence of a stronger democracy.
 
The consequences of the Swedish courts’ increased powers are multiple. In certain cases politicians relinquish controversial political issues to the courts. Hence, an increasing number of difficult situations requiring decision-taking arise and when the legislator fails to address these unsustainable or unclear legal situations emerge which require piece-by-piece corrections by the courts. Some of these situations cannot be solved without legislative changes, as they are purely systematical issues.
This power-shift to the courts may also come to be at the expense of democracy where judicial governance can undermine decisions taken by those elected democratically. In some cases this is to the advantage of individuals with stronger resources where the processes become extensive and expensive. It becomes more difficult for the common person to penetrate a resource consuming and complex framework of practice. The power of the courts have also become more restricted in a sense as the regulations have become more specialized, hence requiring expertise in an increasingly complex society. 

Some believe that the Swedish Supreme Court has become more offensive especially regarding freedoms and rights resulting from the effects of decreasing political discretion. The courts have been affected by the existing European Law discretion, in turn, influencing the domestic courts such as in the Manga verdict. Others opine that just because a ruling has extensive consequences it is not necessarily mean that it is equivalent to court activism. The answer is perhaps more a question of judicial theory, and that a normative theory of interpretation is needed to answer the question. 
All judges are however not fully comfortable with the increasing power of the courts, which is apparent in several early cases of the Swedish European Law where the courts have been opposing the development rather than a driving force.
According to some, the function of the courts is to guard democracy and watch over so that the legislator does not violate the Constitution in order to keep the individual protected against the power apparatus of the state. The courts can actually increase their legitimacy if they act when the legislator has “abdicated”.

Neither are the courts free from ideology. They also obtain a greater responsibility than solely maintaining the ideals of the rule of law as they actually make concrete choices in complex situations of adjudication. Society and law are not disengaged from each other and law is not free from value regardless of where it is situated. Many of the changes occurring today are in form of liberalization and adjustments towards the global economy, however exclusive of an ideological compass. Previously legal reforms where implemented with a clear ideology behind. Today however, no one can really say which ideology is behind the changes that occur.},
  author       = {Zandieh, Sarah},
  keyword      = {Constitutional law,Rättsvetenskap,Statsrätt,Konstitutionell rätt,Offentlig rätt},
  language     = {swe},
  note         = {Student Paper},
  title        = {De svenska domstolarnas ökade makt - ett problem?},
  year         = {2015},
}