Stability or renewal : the judicialisation of representative democracy in American and German constitutionalism
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This thesis examines how American and German constitutionalism, as shaped by the U.S. Supreme Court and the German Constitutional Court (Bundesverfassungsgericht), have mediated the tension between threats to stability and the imperative of renewal through occasional or constant interventions in their democratic processes. To do this, it primarily assesses the 1960s U.S. reapportionment cases and the European Parliament electoral threshold cases of 2011 and 2014. It also considers the ideas of four thinkers, theorists and jurists who have wrestled with the dilemma of how to maintain the bond between citizen and state: Ernst-Wolfgang Böckenförde, Hannah Arendt, Thomas Jefferson and Alexis de Tocqueville. Stability and renewal represent the twin orientation points for constitutionalism and the courts against which they must adjust to possible democratic threats, or new political and social forces in need of recognition. Threats to the state can emerge either from a surfeit of illiberal views in politics and society aimed at destroying an existing constitutional order, or when democratic channels become starved of new opinions through the constitutional or unconstitutional exclusion of voters and parties. A distinctive feature of the approach taken is the conceptual division between the ‘legal/institutional’ space in which the Supreme Court and Bundesverfassungsgericht interpret constitutional meaning, and the ‘civic space’ in which citizens accept or reject constitutional meaning. One central question is how American and German constitutionalism, and the U.S. Supreme Court and Bundesverfassungsgericht shape and influence the vital civic space that is integral to the democratic relationship between citizen and state, and the survival of the state itself. Ultimately it is concluded that without acceptance of the importance of law and constitutionalism by citizens in the civic space, the influence of the Supreme Court and the Bundesverfassungsgericht becomes purely institutional and effectively consigned to the courtroom.
Thesis, PhD Doctor of Philosophy
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