About the project

JUDICON-EU is an international comparative research project that aims to map the diversity and measure the strength of judicial decisions, as well as explain judicial behavior vis-á-vis the legislative branch in Europe.

Recent confrontations between constitutional courts and parliamentary majorities have attracted international interest in the relationship between the judiciary and the legislature. Several political actors have argued that courts have assumed too much power, politics has been extremely judicialized. These claims are explicitly or implicitly connected to the charge that courts have constrained the room for manoeuvre of the legislatures too heavily. Nevertheless, the question to what extent has this aggregation of power constrained the dominant political actors’ room for manoeuvre has never been examined accurately and systematically. The JUDICON-EU research project is trying to fill this gap in the literature.

Systematic research is especially needed since there is an inexplicable discrepancy between the practice of and empirical research on constitutional adjudication. The main deficiency of research on constitutional adjudication consists of an unsophisticated dichotomous approach that merely categorizes decisions of constitutional courts as positive or negative, i.e. as decisions that concluded in declaring the constitutionality or unconstitutionality of a given legal regulation. This approach is deeply inconsistent with the worldwide practice of constitutional adjudication, since the latter has shown widespread differentiation of judicial decisions over the last thirty years.

Furthermore, diversity of judicial decisions implies that we might be able to arrange judicial decisions into a ratio scale and evaluate them according to their strength. Strength as used in this research project shows the extent to which constitutional courts restrict the room for manoeuvre of the legislatures. While all decisions of a constitutional court have the same legal binding force, they may reduce the scope of legislative activities to varying degrees. In order to fit research to reality, a scale has been elaborated to answer the question to what extent courts have constrained the legislatures in general.

Thirdly, based on the dataset containing all relevant decisions of the European constitutional courts between 1990 and 2020, the project will be able to test quantitatively various models of judicial behavior like the attitudinal model, internal or external strategist models. Explaining judicial behavior based on social science methods has been a major undertaking in American empirical legal research for a long time, most recently social science methods became more established also in research on European constitutional courts. The JUDICON-EU project’s comprehensive dataset will allow the participants and external researchers to give a clue to judicial behavior in Europe.

The methodology of the JUDICON-EU project is based on a previous pilot project called JUDICON (www.judicon.tk.mta.hu).

For a detailed description of the methodology and the first results of the project see: Kálmán Pócza (ed.) (2019): Constitutional Politics and the Judiciary: Decision-making in Central and Eastern Europe (London/New York: Routledge).

JUDICON-EU is funded by the National University of Public Service for the time period 2020-2022.