From Myth to Fiction: Why a Legalist-Constructivist Rescue of European Constitutional Ordering Fails
Oxford Journal of Legal Studies, Vol. 29, No. 3, pp. 579–602, 2009
36 Pages Posted: 3 Jul 2009 Last revised: 19 Sep 2010
Date Written: 2009
The defeat of the Constitutional Treaty by French and Dutch voters in 2005 and the following stalemate of the Lisbon Treaty have sparked a soul-searching process for European constitutional scholarship. Among the numerous academic efforts devoted to contemplating the future of European constitution, Michelle Everson and Julia Eisner’s The Making of a European Constitution: Judges and Law Beyond Constitutive Power deserves a close look. Everson and Eisner argue for a postconstituent view of European constitutionalization, which they call ‘Rechtsverfassungsrecht’. Departing from the myth of the constituent power, they interpret the development of a European constitution as a self-creating process by which the ordinary legal system gives itself a set of core values and thereby remakes itself into a constitutional order. Moreover, against the criticisms of juridification, they defend this lawyer-centred process of European constitutionalization as incorporating politics into the daily operation of the legal system. Engaging with Everson and Eisner’s argumentation, I argue that their account of European constitutional development does not so much put out a realist theory of the EU constitutionalization as sets out a realist academic lawyering for the next round of European constitutional politics, which is shared among European constitutional scholars. Contrasting this community-based legal profession in Europe with the situation of epistemic pluralism in American jurisprudence, in this article I observe that a lawyer-centred European constitutional theory as Everson and Eisner’s book illustrates is premised on an inherited consensus that has held a European legal profession together. However, this lawyer-centred account of European constitutionalization presumes either the projection of a professional community onto a Europe-wide civic culture or the self-appointment of legal professionals as the fiduciary of the citizenry. Each is a fiction, however. This fictional character of the legalist-constructivist strategy to European constitutional politics is the underlying cause of the dilemma facing European constitutional ordering.
Keywords: European constitutional law, constitutionalization, EU constitution, postconstituent constitutionalism, European integration, constitutional theory, legal profession
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