European Journal of Law and Economics

, Volume 29, Issue 1, pp 81–101 | Cite as

Constitutional judicial review and political insurance

  • George Tridimas


Considering constitutional judicial review of policy, the power of courts to annul legislation, as a political insurance mechanism to protect against losses from adverse election outcomes, the paper analyzes three questions: First, under what circumstances a political ruler, who wins an election and the right to propose measures of policy, subjects those measures to the checking powers of an independent judiciary. Second, the net expected gains of a political ruler from granting binary choice to the reviewing judiciary rather than open choice. Third, the equilibrium degree of policy review power granted to the judiciary. Differences in the policy preferences of competing politicians, the judiciary and the status quo, the probability of winning an election and the probability that the judiciary confirms legislation passed by the incumbent emerge as the main determinants of judicial review and its political independence.


Judicial dispute resolution Constitutional judicial review Judicial independence Political insurance Binary choice/closed agenda 

JEL Classification

D72 D74 D78 K40 K41 



I wish to thank an anonymous referee for various constructive comments. An earlier version of the paper was presented to the 2008 European Public Choice in Jena. I am indebted to Moriki Hosoe, Peter Nannestad, Martin Paldam and Takis Tridimas for their comments. The usual disclaimer applies.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2009

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.School of EconomicsUniversity of UlsterCo. AntrimUK

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