Judicial review is increasingly prevalent in modern democratic government. Yet with unelected judges reviewing – and potentially overturning – the work of the people’s representatives, it also has long been, in Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes’ words, ‘the gravest and most delicate’ task that courts undertake.
This book establishes a framework to consider the value of judicial review in modern democracy, grouping answers to this question into one of three main arguments, or ‘visions’ for judicial review: legalist; rights-protecting; and majoritarian.
The strength of these visions is then tested with an original dataset of constitutional court outcomes from four European courts – Poland, Slovenia, the Czech Republic, and Latvia – to determine whether any vision meets its promise. In fact, there is surprising support for the potentially majoritarian benefits of judicial review – a finding that challenges much of our existing theory regarding the value of the courts in modern democracy.
'Visions of Judicial Review provides new theoretical and empirical insight into comparative courts and judging, particularly in Central and Eastern European democracies. Scholars and students alike will benefit from its original data and statistical tests of important concepts like majoritarianism, the use of precedent, and judicial independence. This is a timely topic, and Bricker's treatment of it is clear, rigorous, and thorough.'
Christy L Boyd, University of Georgia
'Benjamin Bricker’s book advances the study of judicial politics in comparative perspective. Going beyond the judicialisation perspective, he outlines majoritarian and counter-majoritarian visions of democracies. More importantly, he tests these visions quantitatively with data from the widely neglected Eastern European courts in Poland, Slovenia, Latvia and the Czech Republic. Worthwhile reading for scholars of judicial politics and comparative politics.'
Christoph Hönnige, University of Hannover