In this chapter, three papers explore the politics of constitutional review, the power of a court or other organ of government to review the constitutionality of public acts, including legislation, and to void those acts as unlawful when they are found to be in conflict with the constitutional law. At the close of the Second World War, four federal states—Australia, Canada, Switzerland, and the United States—could be counted as polities in which review operated with at least minimal effectiveness, but there was very little review operating elsewhere. 1 Since 1949, dozens of states have adopted new constitutions providing for constitutional review. Given the high priority placed on protecting human rights in the regimes that followed the demise of fascism in Germany and Italy, military-authoritarianism in southern Europe and Latin America, and communism in eastern Europe, there was little choice in the matter. Today, the rights and review tandem is an essential, even obligatory, component of any move toward constitutional democracy.
There exists a multiplicity of approaches available for comparative research on constitutional review, of course, which we make no attempt to survey here. Instead, we begin by noting that social science research on comparative law and courts has never been sustained, even in the two sub-fields of the discipline that one might have hoped to see such an agenda develop: public law political science 2 and comparative politics. In most American political science departments, public law means American law and courts or, where jurisprudence is taught, it can also mean normative political theory. Courses on comparative law are rarely offered, so appropriate textbooks are nearly non-existent. Comparative politics people, following the lead of their public law colleagues, commonly ignore foreign legal systems in their