Comparative Judicial Review
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Comparative Judicial Review

Edited by Erin F. Delaney and Rosalind Dixon

Constitutional courts around the world play an increasingly central role in day-to-day democratic governance. Yet scholars have only recently begun to develop the interdisciplinary analysis needed to understand this shift in the relationship of constitutional law to politics. This edited volume brings together the leading scholars of constitutional law and politics to provide a comprehensive overview of judicial review, covering theories of its creation, mechanisms of its constraint, and its comparative applications, including theories of interpretation and doctrinal developments. This book serves as a single point of entry for legal scholars and practitioners interested in understanding the field of comparative judicial review in its broader political and social context.
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Chapter 10: Judicial review as a self-stabilizing constitutional mechanism

Tonja Jacobi, Sonia Mittal and Barry R. Weingast

Abstract

This chapter argues that the United States Constitution is self-stabilizing. A self-stabilizing constitution creates incentives for all relevant actors to abide by the rules. Drawing on earlier work, the authors argue that to be self-stabilizing, a constitution must: (1) lower stakes in politics for both ordinary citizens and powerful elite groups; (2) create focal points that facilitate citizen coordination against transgressions by government officials; and (3) enable adaptation over time. The Supreme Court—through powers of judicial review and institutional practices—has assumed an increasingly important role in maintaining constitutional stability. The chapter contends that the Court can lower the stakes, facilitate coordination and enable adaptation—strengthening the self-stabilizing characteristics of the Constitution—though it has not always done so. In so arguing, the authors offer a new framework for understanding the Court’s opinions, and ultimately, the work of the nation’s top judges.

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