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Judicial Lawmaking and Precedent in Supreme Courts

Jan Komárek

London School of Economics & Political Science (LSE)

March 23, 2011

LSE Legal Studies Working Paper No. 4/2011

What does it mean for a supreme court to ‘make law?’ When is it possible to say that its decisions are ‘precedents?’ To what extent should a supreme court’s pronouncements be taken into account by others – lower courts and political branches? And how should these other actors reason with such precedents? This article shows how a particular approach to judicial lawmaking and precedent shapes answers to these questions and examines them in relation to the US Supreme Court and the French Cour de cassation. The findings are then used for a critical analysis of the European Court of Justice’s case law. It is suggested that while the US and French systems have found some ways of reconciling judicial lawmaking with the basic premises of their constitutional and political systems (although they are not entirely satisfactory), the EU system is still waiting for an account of the Court’s lawmaking and precedent. The conclusion indicates directions of possible further research relevant for all courts examined.

Number of Pages in PDF File: 39

Keywords: judicial lawmaking, precedent, United States Supreme Court, French Cour de cassation, European Court of Justice, separation of powers, reasoning with precedent

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Date posted: April 26, 2011  

Suggested Citation

Komárek, Jan, Judicial Lawmaking and Precedent in Supreme Courts (March 23, 2011). LSE Legal Studies Working Paper No. 4/2011. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1793219 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.1793219

Contact Information

Jan Komárek (Contact Author)
London School of Economics & Political Science (LSE) ( email )
Houghton Street
London, WC2A 2AE
United Kingdom
HOME PAGE: http://www.lse.ac.uk/collections/law/staff/jan-komarek.htm
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