Constitutional Politics in Europe: Governing with Judges elaborates a theory of constitutional politics, the process through which the discursive practices and techniques of constitutional adjudication come to structure the work of governments, parliaments, judges, and administrators. Focusing on the cases of France, Germany, Italy, Spain, and the European Union, the book examines the sources and consequences of the pan-European movement to confer constitutional review authority on a new governmental institution, the constitutional court. Detailed case studies illustrate how and to what extent legislative processes have been placed under the influence of constitutional judges. In a growing number of policy domains, these judges function as powerful, adjunct legislators. As constitutional courts have consolidated their position as authoritative interpreters of the constitutional law, and especially of human rights provisions, the work of the judiciary, too, has gradually been constitutionalised. Today, ordinary judges seek to detect violations of the constitution in their application of the various codes, and to rewrite statutes that they deem unconstitutional.
Constitutional politics have not only provoked the demise of traditional notions of parliamentary sovereignty, they have organized profound transformations in the very nature of European governance. Stone Sweet argues that constitutional adjudication constructs complex causal linkages between rule systems and normativity, on the one hand, and the strategic behaviour of individuals, on the other. The theory constitutes a novel synthesis of normative and rational approaches to politics. The book also addresses central questions raised by a wide range of ongoing theory projects, including the 'new institutionalism,'rational choice, principal-agent theories of delegation, and the new constitutionalism in Continental legal theory.