A Boat On The Horizon: Legislative Urgency and Weak-form Review

Weak-form systems of judicial review have been praised as a means of reconciling democratic self-governance with constitutionalism, providing for popular engagement with counter-majoritarian decisions through a democratically elected body. Central to the normative appeal of this model is the notion that the legislature will engage in deliberation and contestation regarding the desirable scope of rights-protections. Drawing on case studies from New Zealand, Australia and Canada, this paper seeks to demonstrate how rights-based contestation or deliberation can be undermined when legislation is considered by parliament in contexts of urgency, both formal and informal. This has consequences for the normative appeal of weak-form review, suggesting that in situations of perceived crisis where rights protections may be most needed, they may also be most vulnerable.