The Volokh Conspiracy

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Nicholas Aroney and John Kincaid guest-blogging on "Courts in Federal Countries: Federalists or Unitarists"


The Volokh Conspiracy blog and I are pleased to welcome guest-bloggers Nicholas Aroney and John Kincaid, who will be discussing their new edited volume, Courts in Federal Countries: Federalists or Unitarists? The book includes contributions by legal scholars and political scientists from around the world, each analyzing the interaction between judicial review and federalism in his or respective country. Here is a brief description of the volume, from the book's website at the University of Toronto Press (which also offers a lower price than Amazon):

Courts are key players in the dynamics of federal countries since their rulings have a direct impact on the ability of governments to centralize and decentralize power. Courts in Federal Countries examines the role high courts play in thirteen countries, including Australia, Brazil, Canada, Germany, India, Nigeria, Spain, and the United States.

The volume's contributors analyse the centralizing or decentralizing forces at play following a court's ruling on issues such as individual rights, economic affairs, social issues, and other matters. The thirteen substantive chapters have been written to facilitate comparability between the countries. Each chapter outlines a country's federal system, explains the constitutional and institutional status of the court system, and discusses the high court's jurisprudence in light of these features. Courts in Federal Countries offers insightful explanations of judicial behaviour in the world's leading federations.

Nicholas Aroney is Professor of Constitutional Law at the University of Queensland, a leading Australian legal scholar, and an expert on federalism and comparative constitutional law. He has written extensively about constitutional federalism in Australia and elsewhere.

John Kincaid is the Robert B. and Helen S. Meyner Professor of Government and Public Service and Director of the Meyner Center for the Study of State and Local Government at Lafayette College, Easton, Pennsylvania. He is one of the world's leading experts on comparative federalism.

John and Nick will be guest-blogging about their book throughout the week.

I should mention that I am the author of the chapter on the United States in Courts in Federal Countries. In that chapter (earlier version available here), I argue that the US Supreme Court has at times constrained both the states and the federal government. But, overall, it has done more to restrict the former than the latter, especially since the 1930s. There are important structural reasons for that tendency. I will discuss my analysis of the US case in a post later this week.