Subnational Constitutional Adjudication and Judicial Activism in Germany

In this paper, I examine the degree and causes of judicial activism in a German subnational constitutional court. This research goal entails two dimensions. On the one hand, I explore whether and to what extent a German subnational constitutional court affects the scope of maneuvering of subnational parliaments and has thus developed a tendency towards judicial activism. I determine the degree of judicial activism with a newly developed “strength index” that measures possible reverberations of decisions made by constitutional courts in the political realm. In this respect, the project addresses a central theme of constitutional democracies: the tension between political self-determination and constitutional adjudication. On the other hand, I assume that judicial activism in the German Länder depends on the competencies and the composition of the court. The project thus combines attitudinal/behaviorist and institutional-theoretical approaches to provide answers to the research question at hand. To provide a comprehensive understanding of the role, subnational constitutional courts play in the German Länder. I apply two methods: linear regression and crisp-set Qualitative Comparative Analysis.
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