Pub. date: 2007 | Online Pub. Date: September 25, 2007 | DOI: 10.4135/9781412952637 | Print ISBN: 9780761923879 | Online ISBN: 9781412952637| Publisher:Sage Publications, Inc.About this encyclopedia
Constitutional courts are bodies that adjudicate questions concerning the constitutionality of legislation and, sometimes, administrative action. From their origins in the American experience, they have spread around the globe to become part of the standard institutional architecture of democracy. While some systems (such as the United States) give the function of constitutional adjudication to ordinary courts or to a unified Supreme Court, the clear trend in the past two decades has been to create special bodies to fulfill this important function, an innovation associated with the constitutional thought of Hans Kelsen (1881–1973). As they have increased in number, constitutional courts have also become increasingly important sites of governance and rights protection around the globe. Constitutional courts are closely tied to the history of judicial review, an American innovation that had been adopted by very few European countries before 1914. After World War I, officials asked the legal theorist Kelsen to ...