Why Do Countries Adopt Constitutional Review?

Journal of Law, Economics, and Organization, Forthcoming

Virginia Public Law and Legal Theory Research Paper No. 2013-29

51 Pages Posted: 2 Sep 2013 Last revised: 16 Oct 2013

Tom Ginsburg

University of Chicago Law School

Mila Versteeg

University of Virginia School of Law

Date Written: September 2, 2013

Abstract

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.

Keywords: constitutional review, political insurance, diffusion

JEL Classification: K00, K19, K49

Suggested Citation

Ginsburg, Tom and Versteeg, Mila, Why Do Countries Adopt Constitutional Review? (September 2, 2013). Journal of Law, Economics, and Organization, Forthcoming; Virginia Public Law and Legal Theory Research Paper No. 2013-29. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2319363

Tom Ginsburg

University of Chicago Law School ( email )

1111 E. 60th St.
Chicago, IL 60637
United States

Mila Versteeg (Contact Author)

University of Virginia School of Law ( email )

580 Massie Road
Charlottesville, VA 22903
United States

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