Judicial Independence and Political Representation: Prussian Judges as Parliamentary Deputies, 1849-1913


The outrageous history of German judges during the Third Reich should not so structure historical research as to distract historians from examining their role in the nineteenth century. Prussian judges played an important role in electoral politics by serving as parliamentary deputies between 1849 and 1913. This essay poses and answers two questions: What was the political, legal, and social setting that led to judges serving in parliament? And, why did their number decline after 1877? Theoretical discourses of separation of powers, construction of a Hegelian "general estate," and independence of the judiciary converged with administrative-legal-constitutional developments in Prussia begun under the absolutism of the eighteenth century and professional and personal interests of judges to bring them into parliament, often as members of the liberal opposition. But success in the liberal project of building a national state, including legal reform, professionalization, and the advent of mass politics, reduced the need and attraction for judges in parliament, resulting in a decline after the 1860s.



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Law and Social Inquiry

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25 Law and Social Inquiry 1049 (2000)

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COinS Kenneth F. Ledford Faculty Bio