Endorsed by the ECPR Standing Group on Law and Courts
2017 sees the twenty-first anniversary of an edited collection put together by C Neal Tate and Torbjorn Vallinder. Entitled 'The Global Expansion of Judicial Power', it set in motion an explosion of interest in the political aspects of law and courts, aspects which had previously found greatest expression in the US literature on the Supreme Court of the United States. Since then, research on law and courts has expanded both empirically and theoretically: empirically, as new or re-established courts have generated a trail of salient decisions, and theoretically, as theories from the United States and (in the case of international courts) from the literature on regional integration have been tested in even more sophisticated ways.
This Section at the 2017 ECPR General Conference in Oslo aims to showcase that broad range of research, and to do so in a way that makes it possible for all researchers interested in law and courts to feel welcome. It is particularly appropriate that such a Section should take place in Oslo, given Oslo University's own contribution to the field through the PluriCourts programme.
We begin by discussing the different Panels that form part of the proposal, before moving on to discuss the links between the proposal and the related Standing Group, and the Section Co-Chairs.
Panel 1: Domestic courts and inter-branch relations:
Provided that constitutional review spreads across the democratic systems we need to systematically test the various approaches and theories developed for the US Supreme Court. We expect the Papers to follow this perspective; they may comparatively investigate a number of issues such as institutional settings, intra-court decision-making, and the relation between courts and other actors. Papers dealing with institutional change are also very welcome.
Panel 2: The policy-making role of courts:
European research mainly focuses on the analysis of international and national high and constitutional courts. Beyond these apex courts there is a large body of ordinary courts which have a strong impact on the implementation of national and transnational legislation. These include, but are not limited to, immigration courts, tax courts, and labour rights courts, all of which deal with politically controversial issues. These courts interpret and apply legislation in concrete cases in disputes. In doing so, they have a lot leeway to shape final policy outcomes. We welcome Papers which deal with politics and policy in these courts.
Panel 3: International Courts: Europe
Panel 4: International Courts: Rest of World
Since the end of the Second World War, various international or regional courts like the European Court of Justice, the European Court of Human Rights or the International Court of Justice have been created. The Panel will gather Papers studying international or regional Courts and dealing with various issues like institutional settings, institutional building, relationships between international courts and other actors, decision-making, jurisdiction and jurisprudence.
Panel 5: Courts in non-democratic and transitional systems:
To understand the role of constitutional courts and judicial politics in different political systems accurately, we need to expand our knowledge beyond democratic systems. Scholars have started to explore the role of courts in authoritarian regimes, but this area of research still requires further discussion about the main issues and approaches that will enable scholars to learn from single-case and comparative studies. In particular, we invite Papers which deal with the links between courts and democratic transitions - either to or from democracy.
Panel 6: Data and methods in law and courts research:
The methodology of comparison is a key factor for this research agenda. We need to carefully explore the various ways of analysing and comparing judicial politics. Beyond the traditional qualitative and quantitative divide we wish to underline the challenge of analysing judicial decisions written in different languages. Data collection and standardisation is an essential condition for successful comparative research. A special focus will lie on the analysis of judicial text corpora.
Link to Standing Group:
This Section has been discussed on the mailing list of the Standing Group for Law and Courts, and has the endorsement of the Standing Group. One of the two Section Co-chairs is currently convenor of the Standing Group; the other Co-Chair will be standing for election as Convenor in due course. The Section contributes directly to the aims of the Standing Group, and has been crafted so as to permit researchers with a wide variety of interests to participate: researchers who operate in a quantitative tradition and those who operate in a qualitative tradition; researchers who are interested primarily in domestic courts, and researchers who are interested in international courts.
Chris Hanretty is Reader in Politics in the School of Politics, Philosophy, Language and Communication Studies at the University of East Anglia. Dr Hanretty obtained his PhD from the European University Institute after a BA in Politics, Philosophy and Economics at the University of Oxford. His PhD thesis, "The Political Independence of Public Service Broadcasters" won the inaugural Francois Meny prize for best dissertation. He has written broadly on non-majoritarian institutions and problems of representation, and is particularly interested in the area of judicial behaviour. He has published in the British Journal of Political Science, the European Journal of Political Research, and the Journal of Law and Courts.
Juan Antonio Mayoral is a post-doctoral student at the Centre of Excellence for International Courts. He obtained his PhD in Political and Social Sciences at the European University Institute, having previously obtained a BA in Law (2004). Dr Mayoral has written extensively on the relationship between national courts and European law, and in particular on how key areas of domestic policy like healthcare can be affected by European Union jurisprudence. He has published in Comparative European Politics and the Journal of Common Market Studies. His most recent book is an edited volume together with Marlene Wind, Bruno de Witte, Urszula Jaremba, and Karola Podstawa, on 'National Courts and EU Law: New issues, Theories and Methods' (2016, Edward Elgar).