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The Role of Constitutional Courts in the Establishment and Maintenance of Democratic Systems of Government

Lee Epstein, Jack Knight and Olga Shvetsova
Law & Society Review
Vol. 35, No. 1 (2001), pp. 117-164
Published by: Wiley on behalf of the Law and Society Association
DOI: 10.2307/3185388
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/3185388
Page Count: 48
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The Role of Constitutional Courts in the Establishment and Maintenance of Democratic Systems of Government
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Abstract

What role do courts play in the establishment and maintenance of constitutional democracies? To address this question, we elaborate a model that draws on existing substantive literature and on theories that assume strategic behavior on the part of judges, executives, and legislatures. This model, in turn, leads to several behavioral predictions about the interactions among the relevant political actors. Although those predictions could be assessed in many distinct contexts, we focus on Russia. In particular, we provide a demonstration of how the model helps make sense of the behavior of the Constitutional Court (Konstitucjonnyj sud) in light of the difficult political situation it confronted. We conclude with some thoughts on the broader implications of our theory for the study of courts throughout Eastern Europe and how it may well illuminate constitutional politics in other parts of the world.

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