Internalizing Contestation in Process-Based Judicial Review

German Law Journal, 2019 20(8)

15 Pages Posted: 9 Sep 2019 Last revised: 10 Sep 2021

Date Written: June 6, 2018


The cases challenging the European Stability Mechanism in Eurozone creditor states show the concern courts have with protecting and promoting democratic contestation. This Article shows how John Hart Ely’s theory of process-based review provides the theoretical basis for understanding how attention to democratic contestation contributes to the legitimacy of courts reviewing legislation against constitutional norms. By focusing on promoting democratic procedures, Ely argues that courts can avoid substantive decisions that are best left to the legislature. Yet, as my discussion of the constitutional theory of constituent and constituted powers shows, no form of constituted power can avoid some exercise of constituent power. In other words, even a process-based approach cannot avoid substantive judgments. The legitimacy of these decisions depends on the availability of avenues for contestation in the judicial decision-making process itself.

Keywords: judicial decision-making, process-based review, John Hart Ely, democracy, contestation

Suggested Citation

Henderson, Laura M., Internalizing Contestation in Process-Based Judicial Review (June 6, 2018). German Law Journal, 2019 20(8), Available at SSRN:

Laura M. Henderson (Contact Author)

Utrecht University - Faculty of Law ( email )

Janskerkhof 3
Utrecht, 3512 BK

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