Why Do Countries Adopt Constitutional Review?
University of Chicago Law School
University of Virginia School of Law
September 2, 2013
Journal of Law, Economics, and Organization, Forthcoming
Virginia Public Law and Legal Theory Research Paper No. 2013-29
In recent decades, there has been a wide-ranging global movement towards constitutional review. This development poses important puzzles of political economy: Why would self-interested governments willingly constrain themselves by constitutional means? What explains the global shift towards judicial supremacy? Though different theories have been proposed, none have been systematically tested against each other using quantitative empirical methods. In this paper we utilize a unique new dataset on constitutional review for 204 countries for the period 1781-2011 to test various theories that explain the adoption of constitutional review. Using a fixed effects spatial lag model, we find substantial evidence that the adoption of constitutional review is driven by domestic electoral politics. By contrast, we find no general evidence that constitutional review adoption results from ideational factors, federalism, or international norm diffusion.
Number of Pages in PDF File: 51
Keywords: constitutional review, political insurance, diffusion
JEL Classification: K00, K19, K49
Date posted: September 2, 2013 ; Last revised: October 16, 2013