Legislative Deliberation and Judicial Review: Between Respect and Disrespect for Elected Lawmakers

  • A. Daniel Oliver-LalanaEmail author
Part of the Legisprudence Library book series (LEGIS, volume 5)


The quality of the lawmaking process—a key legisprudential concern—is becoming an increasingly relevant factor in the judicial review of statutes. Yet, legislative deliberation in parliament, while being a central part of this process, plays a rather marginal role in such a “procedural turn”. Courts may well look at parliamentary debates as an interpretative aid, but are not expected to assess them; and it is only very exceptionally that the quality of these debates has been used as an argument to uphold or to void a statute. Indeed, there are strong institutional reasons not to have judges questioning the deliberative performance of elected legislators. In a legal culture of justification, however, judicial indifference to the quality of legislative deliberation is somewhat of a puzzle, for it sends a discouraging message to both MPs and their constituencies—“it does not really matter whether or not, or how well or badly, bills are debated”. More significantly, it seems to imply that plenary and committee sittings in parliament are not a proper source of legislative justification or have no bearing on the interpretation of basic rights or the permissibility of statutory interferences with them. In constitutional democracies, this (mis)conception might even weaken the legitimacy of judicial review—if laws that were duly considered by the legislature are struck down or, conversely, if courts are too deferential to decisions that have not been debated. Thus, a judicial focus on parliamentary debates could be, after all, less eccentric than first appears. In that connection, this chapter explores what room there could be for arguments based on the quality of legislative deliberation within the judicial review of statutes, and discusses some of the difficulties that appraising this quality involves. Both issues prove critical to legisprudence as a theory which claims to take both (elected) lawmakers and constitutional rights seriously.


Parliamentary debate Process review of laws Margin of appreciation Due deference Legislative rights review 


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© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Facultad de Derecho, Universidad de ZaragozaCiudad UniversitariaSpain

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