Law and Politics of Constitutional Courts: Indonesia and the Search for Judicial Heroes, 1st Edition (Hardback) book cover

Law and Politics of Constitutional Courts

Indonesia and the Search for Judicial Heroes, 1st Edition

By Stefanus Hendrianto


292 pages

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pub: 2018-04-05
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This book critically evaluates different models of judicial leadership in Indonesia to examine the impact that individual chief justices can have on the development of constitutional courts. It explores the importance of this leadership as a factor explaining the dynamic of judicial power. Drawing on an Aristotelean model of heroism and the established idea of judicial heroes to explore the types of leadership that judges can exercise, it illustrates how Indonesia’s recent experience offers a stark contrast between the different models. First, a prudential-minimalist heroic chief justice who knows how to enhance the Court’s authority while fortifying the Court’s status by playing a minimalist role in policy areas. Second, a bold and aggressive heroic chief justice, employing an ambitious constitutional interpretation. The third model is a soldier-type chief justice, who portrays himself as a subordinate of the Executive and Legislature. Contrary perhaps to expectations, the book’s findings show a more cautious initial approach to be the most effective. The experience of Indonesia clearly illustrates the importance of heroic judicial leadership and how the approach chosen by a court can have serious consequences for its success. This book will be a valuable resource for those interested in the law and politics of Indonesia, comparative constitutional law, and comparative judicial politics.


'With rare exceptions, such as the courts headed by John Marshall and Earl Warren, it was not common until recently to explain the work-product of constitutional courts by focusing on their leadership. Now, however, a number of writers have begun to emphasize the importance of the chief justice in guiding courts to be bold or cautious, expansive or restrictive, in their constitutional decisions. With his extensive knowledge and with great judiciousness, Stefanus Hendrianto has examined the important role of chief justices of the Constitutional Court of Indonesia. He shows convincingly that leadership can indeed make a major difference in the emergence of constitutional doctrine, as he examines the work of the Court and compares it to similar courts elsewhere. This is an important work of comparative constitutional law and politics that will repay careful study.'

Donald L. Horowitz, Duke University, USA and author of Constitutional Change and Democracy in Indonesia

'This book is a major contribution to comparative constitutional studies: it provides a crisp and authoritative account of the early jurisprudence of the Indonesian Constitutional Court, a highly active and creative court operating in one of the world's largest democracies. It also offers a fascinating account of the role of Chief Justice Jimly Assidique, as the leader of that court, and in doing so makes an important contribution to broader debates about the role of constitutional judges – and different styles of constitutional judging – in the consolidation of constitutional democracy.'

Rosalind Dixon, UNSW Sydney, Australia

'This fascinating study of the Indonesian Constitutional Court introduces an entirely new concept for understanding judicial power: the judge as a heroic figure. Providing an exhaustive account of the Court’s successes and failures, Hendrianto makes a powerful case for the role of judicial leadership in new democracies.'

Tom Ginsburg, University of Chicago, USA

"This book provides a welcome and valuable contribution to the literature of comparative constitutional law and judicial politics: it broadens our comparative horizons by making the important example of the Indonesian Constitutional Court, with its distinctive history and model of constitutional review, more familiar and accessible to us; and at the same time it explores innovatively the connections between judicial leadership and the institutional legitimacy and effectiveness of constitutional courts. Throughout, Hendrianto creatively combines a rich and helpful contextualization of Indonesian judicial politics with a theorization of judicial virtues in an Aristotelian frame."

Paolo G. Carozza, University of Notre Dame, USA

`Hendrianto’s careful account of the Constitutional Court’s role in Indonesian constitutional law and politics provides us with a richly-layered account that helps contextualize the paths forward, while adding to broader understandings of the dynamics of judicial leadership and judicial power in constitutional democracies.’

Yvonne Tew, Review of Stefanus Hendrianto’s "Law and Politics of Constitutional Courts: Indonesia and the Search for Judicial Heroes", Int’l J. Const. L. Blog, Jan. 17, 2019, at:’s-law-and-politics-of-constitutional-courts-indonesia-and-the-search-for-judicial-heroes

Table of Contents

Part I: Foundations

Introduction; 1. Theorizing Judicial Heroes;

Part II: The First Generation Court

2. The Birth of the Constitutional Court: A Joke that turned Serious; 3. A Heroic Intellectual Leadership; 4. (Un)Heroic Quasi-Weak-Form Review; 5. A Heroic Social Leadership;

Part III: The Second Generation Court

6. After the Heroic Court: The Second Generation Decline? 7. Miscarriage of Chief Justices: The Anti-Heroes; 8: A Good Hero is Hard to Find: Towards a Less Heroic Court?

Part IV: Conclusions

9. Conclusion: The "Heroic Judicial Leadership" and "Second Generation Decline" in Comparative Perspective.

About the Author

Stefanus Hendrianto is a Jesuit and legal scholar. In recent years, he served as a visiting professor at Santa Clara University School of Law and a guest scholar at the Kellogg Institute for International Studies at the University of Notre Dame. Currently, he is a scholar at Boston College, School of Theology and Ministry. He holds a PhD degree from the University of Washington School of Law in Seattle and an LLM from Utrecht University in the Netherlands, in addition to his LLB degree from Gadjah Mada University, Indonesia.

About the Series

Comparative Constitutionalism in Muslim Majority States

This series encourages research into all aspects of comparative constitutionalism within the Muslim-Majority States of South Asia and the Middle East. Key areas of investigation include the post ‘9-11’ implications on constitutionalism and the consequences of the ‘Arab Spring’. The studies within the series span across all aspects of constitutionalism, including constitutional rights, constitutional practices, rule of law issues, human rights, sexual rights and minorities. While the focus of the series is upon the Muslim-Majority States within the South Asia and Middle East region, the comparative critical assessment will engage a global analysis of constitutionalism and application of constitutional rights. Amidst the many cases of failed constitutionalism, there are a number of positives: this series also aims to explore and identify key successes from within the region.

Learn more…

Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
LAW / General
LAW / Administrative Law & Regulatory Practice
LAW / Comparative
LAW / Constitutional
LAW / Courts
LAW / Jurisprudence
LAW / Government / General
LAW / Judicial Power
POLITICAL SCIENCE / Government / Judicial Branch