CONFERENCE ON CONSTITUTIONAL COURTS

Few ingredients have been as crucial to the success of the world's emerging democracies - or, for that matter, the established democracies - as faith in the rule of law. In turn, few institutions have been as essential to maintaining that faith as a free and independent judiciary.

Stanley Paulson
Stanley L. Paulson, Professor of Law and Professor of Philosophy, soon to be installed as the William Gardiner Hammond Professor of Law
The presence or absence of constitutional courts, and the attributes of these courts, have been among the key variables in the design of a judicial system. Nonetheless, as constitutional courts scholars Stanley L. Paulson and Lee Epstein observe, there has been relatively little comparative scholarship on constitutional courts. This gap is especially surprising, they point out, when the increasingly marginal role of the United States Supreme Court in American life is contrasted with the increasingly activist roles of the European constitutional courts. Signs of change are in the wind, but serious comparative scholarship on constitutional courts is still embryonic.


Their goal is to assemble the world's most eminent legal scholars and social scientists to share information, exchange ideas, prepare and present papers, and ultimately produce a book on which future researchers will be able to build.
Stanley L. Paulson holds a joint appointment as Professor of Law and Professor of Philosophy. A distinguished authority on European legal philosophy generally and Hans Kelsen in particular, Paulson will be installed in November as the William Gardiner Hammond Professor of Law.

Lee Epstein also holds a joint appointment, as Professor of Law and Edward Mallinckrodt Distinguished University Professor of Political Science. Formerly the chair of the Department of Political Science, she is a highly respected social scientist with special interest in courts generally and constitutional courts in particular.

Together, they are organizing the first in a series of major international conferences of the Institute for Global Legal Studies. The conference, entitled "Constitutional Courts," will be held on November 1-3, 2001. Their goal is to assemble the world's most eminent legal scholars and social scientists to share information, exchange ideas, prepare and present papers, and ultimately produce a book on which future researchers will be able to build.

While the patterns are not absolute, Paulson and Epstein generally characterize the American system of constitutional review as more diffuse than the centralized European model, where typically only one national court is empowered to decide constitutional questions. They also depict the powers of American judges as ex post, concrete, and confined to real cases or controversies. Many of the European constitutional courts, in contrast, may adjudicate disputes in advance and even in the absence of real cases or controversies. The impact of these and other variables is one of the many questions that the conference will explore.

Professors Paulson and Epstein have divided the conference into three segments. The first segment will consider the historical development and diffusion of the centralized European constitutional court model. It will begin with Austria, where the model first took root, and then examine the spread of centralized constitutional courts to Germany, to post-war western Europe, and, finally, to the post-Soviet republics. The second segment will take up questions of institutional design. Here the conference will explore such issues as the methods for selection and tenure of constitutional court justices, standing requirements for litigants, jurisdiction, the timing of judicial review, justiciability and advisory opinions, and the availability of ex ante review. The third and final segment is a juridico-philosophical discussion of the compatibility of constitutional review with democratic principles.

The conveners have assembled a stunning array of participants. They include

· Professor Ronald Dworkin, author of Taking Rights Seriously (1977), A Matter of Principle (1985), Law’s Empire (1986), and other major works in jurisprudence. Dworkin was formerly the professor of jurisprudence at Oxford University and is currently the Quain Professor of jurisprudence at the University of London and Professor of Law and Professor of Philosophy at New York University.







Lee Epstein
Lee Epstein, the Edward Mallinckrodt Distinguished University Professor of Political Science and Professor of Law

· Professor Juergen Habermas, Germany's leading social and political philosopher.

· Professor Douglass North, the Spencer T. Olin Professor in Arts and Sciences and Professor of Economics, a Nobel Laureate economist best known for his work on institutions.

· Professor Frank I. Michaelman, the Robert Walmsley University Professor at Harvard Law School.

· Professor Robert Alexy, University of Kiel, Germany's leading legal philosopher.

· Professor Kim Lane Scheppele, Professor of Law and Sociology at the University of Pennsylvania. Scheppele has co-directed the Program on Gender and Culture at Central European University in Budapest. She is one of the world's leading authorities on centralized constitutional review in central and eastern Europe.

· Professor Michael Stolleis, Director of the Max Planck Institute for Legal History in Frankfurt. Stolleis is the leading historian of public law in Germany and the author of a monumental three-volume work on the history of German public law (Geschichte des oeffentlichen Rechts in Deutschland).

Douglass North
Nobel Laureate Douglass North, the Spencer T. Olin Professor in Arts and Sciences and Professor of Economics (right) chats with students after class.

· Professor Alec Stone Sweet, Official Fellow of Nuffield College Oxford. Many social scientists credit Stone's The Birth of Judicial Politics in France (1994) with (re)awakening interest in comparative judicial politics. His most recent book, Governing with Judges - Constitutional Politics in Europe (Oxford Univ. Press, 2000), has also received acclaim.

· Professor Walter Murphy, the McCormack Professor of Jurisprudence Emeritus at Princeton University. Professor Murphy is widely regarded as one of the world's leading authorities on comparative law and judicial processes.

· Professor Gerald Stourzh of the University of Vienna. Stourzh is the doyen of Austrian legal history and is also internationally known for his work on the development of constitutional review in Europe.

· Professor Gretchen Helmke, University of Rochester. Helmke has conducted research on the "insecure tenure" of Latin American jurists.

For continuing updates, please visit the School of Law website (ls.wustl.edu) and click on "Constitutional Courts Conference."