Rowman and Littlefield International
Visions of Judicial Review

Visions of Judicial Review

A Comparative Examination of Courts and Policy in Democracies

By Benjamin Bricker

Publication Date: Jan 2016

Pages 188

ECPR Press

Paperback 9781785521478
£30.00 €41.00 $46.00

Judicial review is increasingly prevalent in modern democratic government. Yet with unelected judges reviewing – and potentially overturning – the work of the people's representatives, it also has long been, in Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes' words, ‘the gravest and most delicate' task that courts undertake. This book establishes a framework to consider the value of judicial review in modern democracy, grouping answers to this question into one of three main arguments, or ‘visions' for judicial review: legalist; rights-protecting; and majoritarian. The strength of these visions is then tested with an original dataset of constitutional court outcomes from four European courts – Poland, Slovenia, the Czech Republic, and Latvia – to determine whether any vision meets its promise. In fact, there is surprising support for the potentially majoritarian benefits of judicial review – a finding that challenges much of our existing theory regarding the value of the courts in modern democracy.

List of Figures and Tables vii

List of Abbreviations ix

Acknowledgements xi

Chapter One – Introduction: Constitutional Review in Democratic Government 1

Chapter Two – Majoritarian or Counter-Majoritarian? Visions for Judicial Review 15

Chapter Three – Background: Constitutional Courts in Eastern Europe 49

Chapter Four – Beginnings: Majoritarianism and Rights Protection 65

Chapter Five – The Public Will? Testing a Majoritarian Vision of Judicial Review 87

Chapter Six – Institutional Incentives and the Choices Judges Make:Career-Oriented Judging 109

Chapter Seven – The Use of Precedent in Constitutional Courts:Legalism in Action? 129

Conclusion – The Visions of Judicial Review Considered 147

Bibliography 153

Index 171

"Judicial review is increasingly prevalent in modern democratic government. Yet with unelected judges reviewing – and potentially overturning – the work of the people’s representatives, it also has long been, in Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes’ words, ‘the gravest and most delicate’ task that courts undertake. '...provides new theoretical and empirical insight into comparative courts and judging, particularly in Central and Eastern European democracies."

Christy L. Boyd, University of Georgia

Benjamin Bricker is Assistant Professor of Political Science at Southern Illinois University in Carbondale, Illinois. He received his PhD from Washington University in St Louis and his Juris Doctor from the University of Illinois.

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