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Cover Comparative Politics

9. Constitutions, rights, and judicial power  

Alec Stone Sweet

This chapter focuses on the evolution of systems of constitutional justice since 1787. It first provides an overview of key concepts and definitions, such as constitution, constitutionalism, and rights, before presenting a simple theory of delegation and judicial power. In particular, it explains why political elites would delegate power to constitutional judges, and how to measure the extent of power, or discretion, delegated. It then considers different kinds of constitutions, rights, models of constitutional review, and the main precepts of ‘the new constitutionalism’. It also traces the evolution of constitutional forms and suggests that as constitutional rights and review has diffused around the world, so has the capacity of constitutional judges to influence, and sometimes determine, policy outcomes.

Chapter

Cover Introduction to Politics

10. Law, Constitutions, and Federalism  

Peter Ferdinand

This chapter examines how laws, constitutions, and federalism provide structure to the context of political life. It first considers the importance of constitutions in determining the basic structure of the state and the fundamental rights of citizens that they establish before asking whether the Universal Declaration of Human Rights is Western-centric. It then explores different ways in which states may attempt to realize justice in applying the law, with particular emphasis on differences between Islamic and Western practice. It also discusses the importance of constitutional courts, the ways that the institution of federalism contains the powers of the state and manage diverse societies, and consociationalism as an alternative approach to managing such diversity. Finally, it comments on the increasing legalization of political life.

Chapter

Cover Comparative Politics

9. Constitutions, Rights, and Judicial Power  

Alec Stone Sweet

This chapter focuses on the evolution of systems of constitutional justice since 1787. It first provides an overview of key concepts and definitions, such as constitution, constitutionalism, and rights, before presenting a simple theory of delegation and judicial power. In particular, it explains why political elites would delegate power to constitutional judges, and how to measure the extent of power, or discretion, delegated. It then considers different kinds of constitutions, rights, models of constitutional review, and the main precepts of ‘the new constitutionalism’. It also traces the evolution of constitutional forms and suggests that as constitutional rights and review has diffused around the world, so has the capacity of constitutional judges to influence, and sometimes determine, policy outcomes.