Rational Lawmaking, Proportionality and Balancing

  • Jan SieckmannEmail author
Part of the Legisprudence Library book series (LEGIS, volume 3)


Law-making, like any normative decision-making, requires justification. A purely formal democratic legitimation by means of voting procedures and a form of majority rule is insufficient, for democratic legitimacy depends on representing the interests of the governed, which requires the balancing of these interests and is only imperfectly reflected in voting procedures. Hence, balancing is the core of rational lawmaking and proportionality is the relevant constitutional standard that guides this balancing. Legislative balancing, however, has features that are distinct from judicial balancing. In particular, it is open because the legislator may, in general, pursue its political objectives without further legitimation and is not necessarily bound to consider only legal principles. It is “pure” insofar as the issue of control and its effects on the structure of balancing is not present in legislative balancing. And it is complex for it is not restricted to claims advanced in a judicial procedure. The aim of this contribution is to analyze the general structure of balancing and to investigate the distinctive features of legislative balancing as a method of rational decision-making.


Argumentation Balancing Legislation Proportionality Rationality 


  1. Alexy, Robert. 1978. Theorie der juristischen Argumentation. Frankfurt am Main: Suhrkamp. English edition: Alexy, Robert. 1989. Theory of Legal Argumentation. Oxford: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  2. Alexy, Robert. 1985. Theorie der Grundrechte. Frankfurt am Main: Suhrkamp. English edition: Alexy, Robert. 2002. Theory of Fundamental Rights. Oxford: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  3. Barry, Brian. 1990. Political argument, 2nd ed. New York: Harvester-Wheatsheaf.Google Scholar
  4. Broome, John. 1991. Weighing goods. Oxford/Cambridge, MA: Blackwell.Google Scholar
  5. Clérico, Laura. 2001. Die Struktur der Verhältnismäßigkeit. Baden-Baden: Nomos.Google Scholar
  6. Dworkin, Ronald. 1978. Taking rights seriously, 2nd ed. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.Google Scholar
  7. Hirschberg, Lothar. 1981. Der Grundsatz der Verhältnismäßigkeit. Göttingen: Vandenhoeck.Google Scholar
  8. Hofmann, Ekkehardt. 2007. Abwägung im Verfassungsrecht. Berlin: Duncker & Humblot.Google Scholar
  9. Hurley, Susan. 1989. Natural reasons. New York/Oxford: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  10. Jansen, Nils. 1997. Die Abwägung von Grundrechten. Der Staat 36: 27–54.Google Scholar
  11. Jansen, Nils. 1998. Die Struktur der Gerechtigkeit. Baden-Baden: Nomos.Google Scholar
  12. Meßerschmidt, Klaus. 2000. Gesetzgebungsermessen. Berlin: Berlin Verlag Arno Spitz/Nomos.Google Scholar
  13. Oliver-Lalana, A. Daniel. 2014. Normas y razones: un estudio sobre argumentación legislativa. In Argumentación jurídica en el Estado Constitucional, ed. P. Grández and F. Morales, 491–528. Lima: Palestra.Google Scholar
  14. Rivers, Julian. 2006. Proportionality and variable intensity of review. Cambridge Law Journal 65: 174–207.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Rivers, Julian. 2007. Proportionality, discretion and the second law of balancing. In Law, rights and discourse. The legal philosophy of Robert Alexy, ed. G. Pavlakos, 189–206. Oxford/Portland: Hart.Google Scholar
  16. Sartor, Giovanni. 2013. The logic of proportionality: Reasoning with non-numerical magnitudes. German Law Journal 14: 1419–1456.Google Scholar
  17. Schlink, Bernhard. 1976. Abwägung im Verfassungsrecht. Berlin: Duncker & Humblot.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Sieckmann, Jan-R. 1990. Regelmodelle und Prinzipienmodelle des Rechtssystems. Baden-Baden: Nomos.Google Scholar
  19. Sieckmann, Jan-R. 1995. Zur Struktur und Begründung von Abwägungsurteilen. Rechtstheorie 26: 45–69.Google Scholar
  20. Sieckmann, Jan-R. 2004. Autonome Abwägung. Archiv für Rechts- und Sozialphilosophie (ARSP) 90: 66–85.Google Scholar
  21. Sieckmann, Jan-R. 2009. Recht als normatives System. Baden-Baden: Nomos.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Sieckmann, Jan-R. 2010. Balancing, optimisation, and Alexy’s “weight formula”. In Legal reasoning: The methods of balancing, ARSP Beiheft 124, ed. J. Sieckmann, 103–119. Stuttgart: F. Steiner.Google Scholar
  23. Sieckmann, Jan-R. 2012a. The logic of autonomy. Oxford/Portland: Hart Publishing.Google Scholar
  24. Sieckmann, Jan-R. 2012b. Is balancing a method of rational justification sui generis? On the structure of autonomous balancing. In Legal argumentation theory: Cross-disciplinary perspectives, ed. E. Feteris and C. Dahlman, 189–206. Dordrecht: Springer.Google Scholar
  25. Sieckmann, Jan-R. 2013. Legislation as implementation of constitutional law. A foundation for the demand of legislative rationality. In The rationality and justification of legislation, ed. L.J. Wintgens and A.D. Oliver-Lalana, 111–125. Berlin: Springer.Google Scholar
  26. Slote, Michael. 1989. Beyond optimizing. Cambridge, MA/London: Harvard University Press.Google Scholar
  27. Steiner, Hillel. 1994. An essay on rights. Oxford/Cambridge, MA: Blackwell.Google Scholar
  28. Wintgens, Luc. 2012. Legisprudence. Practical reason in legislation. Aldershot: Ashgate.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing Switzerland 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Universität Erlangen-Nürnberg. JuridicumErlangenGermany

Personalised recommendations