Law and the Role of a Judge

Law and the Role of a Judge

Leslie Green 

University of Oxford – Faculty of Law; Queen’s University – Faculty of Law

September 13, 2014

Oxford Legal Studies
Research Paper No. 47/2014


This paper argues that role of a judge consists of obligations to apply the law, obligations to improve the law, and obligations to protect the law.

It defends this view against a competing suggestion by Michael Moore, who claims that, when acting judicially, judges are always obligated to apply the law, and the law alone. I argue that this depends on an incorrect view of the relationship between social roles and moral obligations, and an unacceptably capacious view of what the law is. I conclude by asking whether there nonetheless room to make a ‘conceptual choice’ to see law as Moore thinks of it, or a reason to reform the concept of law along such lines. I reject both ideas. There are fewer ‘conceptual choices’ in jurisprudence than some people think.

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