In Defense of Deference: International Human Rights as Standards of Review

Journal of Social Philosophy. Member states of the Council of Europe subject themselves to judicial human rights review by the European Court of Human Rights. That Court in turn defers sometimes to the judgments of domestic courts about compliance, granting them a margin of discretion, more so when it sees a European consensus. This complex practice can be justified based on arguments about comparative epistemic expertise, respect for democratic decision making, and the need to avoid undue judicial discretion – juristocracy. While this account supports the general practice, it points to certain weaknesses and areas of improvement: the rules to nominate and elect judges and members of the Registry of the Court, the doctrine of the margin of appreciation, and the rationales for a European consensus. [D0I]