Judicial Reasoning in Constitutional Courts: A European Perspective

German Law Journal 2013/8. pp. 1215-1278

45 Pages Posted: 8 Nov 2011 Last revised: 17 Aug 2013

Date Written: April 14, 2012


In this paper we are going to analyse how constitutional courts are able to extract the most meaning from a (necessarily) short text, such as a Constitution, with the use of sophisticated tricks (or methods) of interpretation. Partly with the help of these methods, and partly on the basis of text-independent speculations, constitutional courts and legal scholars are able to develop a system of concepts (a Rechtsdogmatik or its specific constitutional part, the Verfassungsdogmatik) considerably more sophisticated than the one of the actual text of the Constitution in order to serve as a helping toolkit for the solution of future cases. The nature of this conceptual system will be analysed, before we turn to the question of styles of constitutional reasoning. The analysis concentrates on the practice of European constitutional courts, though for purposes of classification and comparison, non-European practices will also be mentioned.

Keywords: constitutional reasoning, Verfassungsdogmatik, legal reasoning, effet utile, Scalia, living tree, legal method, Ius Publicum Europaeum, originalism, Begriffsjurisprudenz, plain meaning rule, Golden Rule, literal rule, purposive interpretation, teleological interpretation, Brandeis Brief, analogy

JEL Classification: K10, K30

Suggested Citation

Jakab, Andras, Judicial Reasoning in Constitutional Courts: A European Perspective (April 14, 2012). German Law Journal 2013/8. pp. 1215-1278, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1956657 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.1956657

Andras Jakab (Contact Author)

University of Salzburg ( email )

Kapitelgasse 5-7.
Salzburg, 5020

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