Rights, Power, and “Transforming Justice” Justice, rights, and power are really intertwined….

Rights, Power, and “Transforming Justice” Justice, rights, and power are really intertwined. Rights plus power equals “transforming justice.” T. McMahon states, “While natural rights are the basis for justice, rights cannot be realized nor justice become operative without power;”28 Judges and juries exercise power when two opposing parties, both of whom are “right,” seek justice from the courts. Power generally is defined and exercised through inheritance, authority, contracts, competition, manipulation, and force. Power exercised through manipulation cannot be used to obtain justice legitimately. The two steps in exercising “transforming justice” are:
1. Be aware of your rights and power. McMahon states, “It is important to determine what rights and how much legitimate power are necessary to exercise these rights without trampling on other rights. For example, an employer might have the right and the power to fire an insolent employee, but she or he might not have enough to challenge union regulations.”29
2. Establish legitimate power as a means for obtaining and establishing rights. According to McMahon, “If the legitimacy of transforming justice cannot be established, its exercise may then be reduced to spurious power plays to get what someone wants, rather than a means of fulfilling fights.”30
3. This interrelationship of rights, justice, and power is particularly helpful in studying stakeholder management relationships. Since stakeholders exercise power to implement their interests, the concept of “rights plus power equals transforming justice” adds value in determining justice (procedural, compensatory, and retributive). The question of justice in complex, competitive situations becomes not only “Whose rights are more right?” but also “By what means and to what end was power exercised?”

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