Mapping Constitutional Reasoning Across the World
The CONREASON Project aims to produce a systematic, comprehensive picture of constitutional reasoning “in action”, not just for Europe but for a broad set of jurisdictions around the globe. Based on a qualitative research design, the core of the Project consists in the preparation and assemblage of expert-produced country reports. The studies of 25-35 pages a piece, written in English language, by offering an in-depth analysis of the courts’ most influential judgments will permit meaningful comparisons among constitutional jurisdictions.
Each phase of the Project is structured around the objective of making comparison possible and meaningful.
First, the Principal Investigator, András Jakab, developed a comprehensive typology of constitutional arguments. The typology is meant to ensure that the country experts operate within the same conceptual framework. While it bears emphasis that the experts need not accept each and every aspect of the Principal Investigator’s underlying theoretical views, the conceptual framework it sets out is what warrants the validity of the research results and, ultimately, their comparability. The CONREASON Team has elaborated a detailed questionnaire operationalizing this conceptual typology. The questionnaire covers institutional issues (e.g., composition of the court, competences, workload, structure of the opinions), arguments in constitutional reasoning (e.g., types of arguments, weight of arguments, degree of judicial candour and rhetoric, key concepts of constitutional argumentation, characteristic ways of framing the constitutional issues), the context of constitutional reasoning (attitudes of legal scholarship towards the constitutional court, legal and political culture, international context), and the authors’ evaluation and criticism of the constitutional courts’ argumentative practices.
The selection of jurisdictions reflects the need to balance the availability of expertise, legal origins (civil law, common law, etc.), geographical representativeness (ensuring we have courts from all five continents), and international saliency.
For each jurisdiction, case selection follows a method frequently used in the social sciences: expert opinion. Each author must write his/her report on the basis of the 40 most salient judgments of the court under investigation. She or he is then requested to identify five recognised experts for the same court, each of whom will produce his/her own forty salient cases list. These five "extra" lists will then serve as a measure of uncertainty for the original list. In addition to writing the report, each author will be requested to complete a table with a series of specific questions which must be answered for every judgment in the 40 judgments list. This will permit us to determine whether there are common patterns of variation in salient judgments accross the jurisdictions investigated.
A video explaining the research design of the project was released after our February 2013 Workshop.