How can constitutional courts strengthen democratic governance?

Christine Landfried’s book Judicial Power explores constitutional courts and political transformations.

A new book edited by Hertie School Senior Fellow Christine Landfried explores the issue of judicial review and how constitutional courts can strengthen democratic governance. Judicial Power, which includes articles by 20 leading legal experts, was published in January 2019 by Cambridge University Press.

The authors, both scholars and practicing judges, offer a new take on the much-debated power of national and transnational constitutional courts to issue binding rulings in interpreting the constitution or an international treaty. What does it mean for democratic governance that non-elected judges influence politics and policies? While previous research concentrated on the contradictions between democracy and judicial review, Judicial Power explores the potential of constitutional courts to contribute to democratic governance.

The contributors suggest that judicial review allows for a way of reflecting on social integration that differs from that of politics. Because the methods of judicial and political decision-making differ, this can be a resource for democratic governance. The authors test this idea in case studies on the role of constitutional courts in political transformations such as the foundation of new democracies, the process of European integration, and the growing influence of populism in Europe and the United States.

Landfried is a Senior Fellow at the Hertie School and Professor emerita of Political Science at the University of Hamburg.

Find the book on the Cambridge University Press website here.

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