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Albie Sachs on His Experiences as Part of the First Constitutional Court of South Africa

The Strange Alchemy of Life and Law (January 21, 2010)

From a young age, Albie Sachs played a prominent part in the struggle for justice in South Africa. As a result he was detained in solitary confinement, tortured by sleep deprivation and eventually injured by a car bomb explosion which cost him his right arm and his sight in one eye.

After helping draft South Africa’s post-apartheid Constitution, he was appointed by Nelson Mandela to be a member of the country’s first Constitutional Court. Over the course of his 15-year term on the court, he grappled with the challenges posed to the fledgling democracy as it sought to overcome the injustices of the apartheid regime. His book The Strange Alchemy of Life and Law (Oxford University Press) provides an insider's perspective on modern South Africa and a rare glimpse into the working of a judicial mind.

Sachs recently participated in a panel discussion on issues which dominated the Sotomayor hearings in the United States: to what extent do life experiences influence the way judges deal with constitutional questions, and how do passion and empathy engage with reason in determining fundamental rights?

Listen to the event above.

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