Wizarding Law in the 21st Century


All Aboard the Hogwarts Express

While Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows—Part 2 is the eighth and final film in the Harry Potter Series, its theatrical release does not signal the end of Pottermania. Instead, fans can continue enjoying the magical world of Harry Potter through Pottermore, an online interactive reading experience by J.K. Rowling.

Last week, Potter fans, such as myself, scrambled at all hours of the night to get one of the coveted 1 million early access slots to the new site, which is due to open in October.

Last November, I wrote Introduction to Wizarding Law to celebrate the arrival of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows—Part 1. I had fun writing the article and received some great comments (including some from a professor teaching a college class on the very topic), so I decided to write a follow-up now as the movie series winds down and Pottermore begins.

Warning: This article contains SPOILERS. If you are waiting to read the book or see the movie, don’t read on.

According to the widely accepted and meticulously researched timeline of the book series, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows—Part 2 takes place primarily on May 1-2, 1998, with the epilogue occurring in September of 2017.  Almost all the information we have about the wizarding world after the events of May 2nd, 1998 are either gleaned from the epilogue, or brought in from interviews with J.K. Rowling after the series ended. So, what do we know about changes in the legal and political environment of Harry’s world in the 19 years between the final two scenes of the book (or movie)?

If you recall from my previous journey into Harry’s World, the politics of the wizarding world have long been a mess. During Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Voldemort seized control of the Ministry of Magic in a coup, murdered the previous Minister for Magic (Rufus Scrimgeour) and installed Pius Thicknesse as a figurehead Minister for Magic.

Following the defeat of Voldemort on the 2nd of May, 1998, Thicknesse was removed from his position as Minister for Magic. It is not clear if he was punished for crimes committed while Minister, as he was under the Imperius curse and his actions were not his own. Kingsley Shacklebolt, Order of the Phoenix member and former Auror, was named interim minister.

We know from interviews that his leadership as interim minister was so well received that he was quickly elected to hold the office and led Wizarding Britain for many years. Shortly after being installed as Minister, Shacklebolt started making changes, especially to the judicial system. He removed the Dementors from being guards of Azkaban Prison and ended the punishment of slowly having one’s soul drained.

Shacklebolt hired Harry, Ron and Neville to join the Aurors in rounding up Voldemort’s remaining followers. Shacklebolt insisted on giving a fair trials. He took mitigating circumstances like being under the Imperius curse into account, which was something his predecessors (particularly Barty Crouch Senior) were not well known for, having incarcerated Sirius Black and others without a trial. Harry helped Shacklebolt reform the Ministry and was eventually promoted to Head of the Auror Department.

Hermione returned to Hogwarts to resume her missing year of classes following the events of Deathly Hallows. Afterwards, she too joined the Ministry. Unlike the boys, she does not join the Auror department, but instead dedicates her intellect and her strong beliefs against injustice to the Department for the Regulation and Control of Magical Creatures to push through legislation to improve the quality of life for house-elves and other disenfranchised creatures.  Later she joins the Department of Magical Law Enforcement where she worked to put an end to anti-muggleborn laws.

Together, our heroes and Kingsley bring the Wizarding World into much better times.

I hope you have enjoyed my little detours into the legal and political world Harry Potter lives in as much as I’ve enjoyed writing them. I’d like to give a quick shout out to my friend Steve Vander Ark and his tremendously informative Harry Potter Lexicon website and book, without which compiling the information in these two articles would have been very difficult to do.

If you happened to find the magic quill and got into Pottermore, be on the lookout for me as DraconisLumos42 (Pottermore doesn’t let you choose your own username), where the Sorting hat will hopefully sort me into Ravenclaw.  If you want to know about what Pottermore is, check out the Video Rowling recorded to explain it below.