The German Constitutional Court – Activist, But Not Partisan?

71 Pages Posted: 1 Feb 2024

See all articles by Christoph Engel

Christoph Engel

Max Planck Institute for Research on Collective Goods; University of Bonn - Faculty of Law & Economics; Erasmus University Rotterdam (EUR), Erasmus School of Law, Rotterdam Institute of Law and Economics, Students; Universität Osnabrück - Faculty of Law

Date Written: February 1, 2024

Abstract

The German Constitutional Court has powers that are no weaker than the powers of the US Supreme Court. Justices are openly selected by the political parties. Nonetheless, public and professional perception are strikingly different. Justices at the German court are not believed to be guided by the policy preferences of the nominating party. This paper uses the complete publicly available data to investigate whether this perception is well-founded. It exploits two independent sources of quasi-random variation to generate causal evidence. There is no smoking gun of ideological influence. Some specifications show, however, that justices nominated by the FDP and the SPD are more activist, even in domains where activism likely runs counter the ideological preferences of these parties.

Keywords: German Constitutional Court, party influence, ideology, judicial activism, quasirandom variation

Suggested Citation

Engel, Christoph, The German Constitutional Court – Activist, But Not Partisan? (February 1, 2024). MPI Collective Goods Discussion Paper, No. 2024/4, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=4713031 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.4713031

Christoph Engel (Contact Author)

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Universität Osnabrück - Faculty of Law

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