Conference on Comparative Judicial Review

Friday-Saturday, October 7-8, 2016

Northwestern Pritzker School of Law, 375 East Chicago Avenue, Chicago, IL 60611

Co-convened by Erin Delaney (Northwestern) and Rosalind Dixon (UNSW)

 Participants | Schedule | Materials (login required)

Constitutional courts around the world play an increasingly central role in day to day democratic governance. Yet comparative constitutional scholars have only recently begun to develop the interdisciplinary analysis needed to understand this shift in the constitutional law-politics relationship. This conference, and the associated edited volume (to be published by Edward Elgar Press in 2017), attempts to address this gap by bringing together the leading scholars of constitutional law and politics to provide a comprehensive overview of existing understandings of this question. Together, the papers associated with the conference will also serve as a single-point of entry for legal scholars and practitioners interested in understanding the field of comparative judicial review in its broader political and social context.  

The conference will examine theories of judicial review as a form of political insurance; a democratic hedging device; a means of mediating political conflict in divided societies; a response to a principal-agent problem; a mechanism for promoting public reason-giving; or a means of satisfying individual demands for a hearing. It will consider accounts of judicial review as constrained by a particular political 'tolerance interval'; shaped by dynamics of inter-branch competition or competition between rival military or authoritarian as well as democratic elites; supported by a form of co-ordination game between rival political elites; constructed by the federal versus unitary nature of democratic politics; or shaped by the actions of courts themselves as well as the political branches. It will review central themes in judicial review, across countries, such as the use of constitutional history in constitutional interpretation, proportionality doctrines, negative versus positive (or first versus second generation) rights enforcement, and ideas of weak versus strong form judicial review. It will also address the relationship between judicial review in a domestic constitutional context, and the politics of comparative constitutional citation, as well as obedience to international law.  

In Partnership with:


Conference Participants

Karen Alter, Northwestern Pritzker School of Law

Steven G. Calabresi, Northwestern Pritzker School of Law

Erin F. Delaney, Northwestern Pritzker School of Law

Tom Daly, University of Edinburgh, Centre for Constitutional Law

Rosalind Dixon, University of New South Wales

David Fontana, George Washington University Law School 

Alon Harel, Hebrew University of Jerusalem

Ran Hirschl, University of Toronto

Aziz Huq, University of Chicago Law School

Samuel Issacharoff, New York University School of Law

Tonja Jacobi, Northwestern Pritzker School of Law

Madhav Khosla, Harvard University

David E. Landau, Florida State University College of Law

Yi-Li Lee, Harvard University

Hanna Lerner, Tel Aviv University

Sonia Mittal, Stanford University

Theunis Roux, University of New South Wales

Virgilio Afonso da Silva, University of São Paulo

Richard Stacey, University of Toronto

Kristen A. Stilt, Harvard Law School

Yvonne Tew, Georgetown Law

Mariana Velasco Rivera, Yale Law School

Salma Waheedi, Harvard Law School

Barry R. Weingast, Stanford University

Emily Zackin, John Hopkins University


Friday, October 7

8:45 am - 9:15 am   Continental Breakfast and Welcome in Rubloff 339

9:15 am - 11:00 am Session 1: Judicial Review - Institutions, Tools & Interpretive Challenges in Global

                                Constitutional Review by Multiple Final Courts: Competition and Collaboration
                                Wen-Chen Chang & Yi-Li Lee

                                Beyond Europe and the United States: The Wide World of Supreme and Constitutional 
                                Virgilio Afonso da Silva

                                Comparative Approaches to Constitutional History
                                Jamal Greene & Yvonne Tew 

                                Discussant: Aziz Huq

11:00 am - 11:30 am Coffee Break/Morning Tea

11:30 am - 1:15 pm  Session 2: The Origins & Functions of Judicial Review                                

                                 Comparative Constitutional Insurance
                                 Tom Ginsburg & Rosalind Dixon                     

                                 Comparative Constitutional Law as a Window on Democratic Institutions
                                 Samuel Issacharoff

                                 The Right to a Hearing and Judicial Review: Comparative Constitutional Realities
                                 Alon Harel & Adam Shinar

                                 Discussant: Richard Stacey

1:15 pm - 2:15 pm    Lunch in the Faculty Commons

2:15 pm - 3:45 pm    Session 3: Origins & Functions II                   

                                 Interpreting Constitutions in Divided Societies
                                 Hanna Lerner

                                 The Supreme Court as Coordinator-in-Chief: Judicial Review as a Self-Stabilizing
                                 Constitutional Mechanism
                                 Tonja Jacobi, Sonia Mittal & Barry R. Weingast

                                 The De-Judicialization of Politics
                                 Mila Versteeg & Emily Zackin

                                 Discussant: Tom Daly

3:45 pm - 4:15 pm   Coffee Break/Afternoon Tea

4:15 pm - 5:45 pm   Session 4: Judicial Review & Its Political Context

                                Judicial Review and the Politics of Comparative Citation: Theory, Evidence & 
                                Methodological Challenges
                                Ran Hirschl

                                Judicial Review in the Context of Constitutional Islam
                                Kristen A. Stilt & Salma Waheedi

                                The Origins and Growth of Judicial Enforcement 
                                Steven Calabresi

                                Discussant: David Fontana

Saturday, October 8

9:00 am - 9:30 am    Buffet Breakfast in Rubloff 339

9:30 am - 11:15 am  Session 5: Judicial Review & Its Political Context

                                 International Constitutional Review: Three Optics
                                 Karen Alter                    

                                 A Typological Theory of Judicial Review Regime Change
                                 Theunis Roux                        

                                 Courts and Support Structures: Rethinking the Standard Narrative
                                 David E. Landau                           

                                 Discussants: Mariana Velasco Rivera & Madhav Khosla

11:15 am - 11:30 am Conclusions