Research Seminar | Constructing the European Law State
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Scholars have long debated the European Court of Justice’s (ECJ) role in propelling European integration: “the judicial construction of Europe.” Yet we know far less about the politics surrounding the institutional expansion of the European Union (EU) legal order itself: “the construction of the European judiciary.” When the EU judiciary was established, it comprised a single little-known court with a temporary lease in Luxembourg; it was composed of seven lonely judges assisted by a handful of staff members; it struggled to forge ties with national judges and to appeal to civil society. Today, the ECJ sits atop an expansive judicial order, with dozens of EU judges and thousands of staff, and a network of national judges interspersed across member states applying EU law in the disputes before them. How do we make sense of this remarkable institutional development – as well as its limits? Applying insights from the literatures on state building and historical institutionalism, we propose a comparative theory of law and political development to analyze the construction of the European judiciary. We conceptualize the EU as a “law state” – an unbalanced polity that lacks coercive and administrative capacity and governs primarily through an expansive network of judicial institutions. In law states like the Holy Roman Empire, the antebellum US, or the contemporary EU, central political elites neither wield courts to tie their own hands (rule of law) nor as instruments of repression (rule by law). Rather, law states illuminate a third pattern of political development – “rule through law” – wherein political elites expand judicial institutions to cultivate social support, accrue infrastructural power, and govern without coercion. Our theoretical framework sheds new light on the distinctive strengths and vulnerabilities of polities that – like the EU – govern primarily through law and courts.
R. Daniel Kelemen is McCourt Chair at the McCourt School of Public Policy at Georgetown University. He is also Professor of Law (by courtesy) at Georgetown Law. Kelemen's research interests include the politics and law of the European Union, comparative politics and law, and comparative public policy. His 2011 book - Eurolegalism: The Transformation of Law and Regulation in the European Union (Harvard University Press) won the Best Book Award from the European Union Studies Association. He is the author or editor of five other books, and author of over one hundred articles and book chapters. Prior to joining Georgetown, Kelemen was Professor of Political Science and Law at Rutgers University, where he also served as Chair of the Department of Political Science and Director of the Center for European Studies. Previously, Kelemen was Fellow in Politics and University Lecturer at Lincoln College and the Department of Politics & International Relations of the University of Oxford. He has been a Member of the Institute for Advanced Study, a visiting fellow in the Program in Law and Public Affairs at Princeton University, and a Fulbright Fellow in European Union Studies at the Centre for European Policy Studies in Brussels.
Kelemen is a Senior Associate (Non-Resident), in the Europe, Russia, and Eurasia Program at the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS). He is also a member of the Council on Foreign Relations, and a member of the Executive Committee of the European Union Studies Association. He was educated at UC Berkeley (A.B. Sociology) and Stanford (M.A. and Ph.D. Political Science).