The European Court's Political Power: Selected Essays

Overview

Karen Alter's work on the European Court of Justice (ECJ) heralded a new level of sophistication in the political analysis of the controversial institution, through its combination of legal understanding and active engagement with theoretical questions. The European Court's Political Power assembles the most important of Alter's articles written over a fourteen year span, adding an original new introduction and conclusion taking an overview of the Court's development and current...

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The European Court's Political Power: Selected Essays

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Overview

Karen Alter's work on the European Court of Justice (ECJ) heralded a new level of sophistication in the political analysis of the controversial institution, through its combination of legal understanding and active engagement with theoretical questions. The European Court's Political Power assembles the most important of Alter's articles written over a fourteen year span, adding an original new introduction and conclusion taking an overview of the Court's development and current concerns.

Together the articles provide insight into the historical and political contours of the ECJ's influence on European politics, explaining how and why the same institution can have such a varying impact across time and issue area. The book starts with the European Coal and Steel Community, where the ECJ was largely unable to facilitate greater member state respect for ECSC rules. Alter then shows how legal actors orchestrated an activist transformation of the European legal system-with the critical aid of jurist advocacy movements, and via the co-optation national courts. The transformation of the European legal system wrested from member states control over the meaning of European law, but the ECJ continues to have differential influence across issue area. Alter explains that different influence of the ECJ comes from the varied extent to which sub and supra-national actors turn to the ECJ to achieve political objectives.

Looking beyond the European experience, the book includes four chapters that put the ECJ into a comparative perspective, examining the extent to which the ECJ experience is unique, or a harbinger of the future role international courts may play in international and comparative politics.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"The theories and models that Alter constructs as well as the theoretical and methodological questions considered at very least point toward a number of likely lines of inquiry at both the national and regional levels. The in-depth qualitative analyses of particular cases used to derive and test theories and propositions found throughout Alter's work are also a high point."
—Evan Rosevear, Law and Politics Book Review

"The aim of Alter's book is to strengthen her contribution to our understanding of how international courts can impact on policy making at both the national and international level. Alter's book is a must-read for anyone concerned with the process of translating international law into social and political reality"
—Marie-Pierre Granger, Central European University, The Modern Law Review

"Spanning the last fifteen years, one of the most recognized and respected scholars of the European Court of Justice has brought together between two covers many of her most important papers. Alter's deeply contextualized understanding of the Court dissents from both specific legal doctrinal analysis that tends to overlook political conflicts and overly general social scientific generalizations that breezily bypass a deeply grounded understanding of the politics of European law. An additional virtue of this outstanding collection is its comparative perspective on the European court and its recognition of broader international developments to which the Court may have given rise. Among both scholars and practitioners this book should find a large and avid readership."
—Peter J. Katzenstein, Walter S. Carpenter, Jr. Professor of International Studies, Cornell University

"Very good complementary reading in order to understand the history behind many landmark cases and legal policy decisions. For people with little exposure to the existing literature on European legal integration, the book is definitely a good starting point. Professor Alter must be commended for bringing the European experience closer to foreign and international scholars, especially in the United States."
—Francisco Ramos Romeu, Universidad Autonoma de Barcelona, Environmental Law Review

"If political scientists and international lawyers were to read only one book on the European Court of Justice, this should be the one."
—Anne-Marie Slaughter, Dean of the Woodrow Wilson School

"Karen Alter has done more than any other scholar to show how the social, political, and historical context in which the European Court of Justice is embedded shapes its role and impact. The four thresholds that she identifies also provide a basic for a comparative analysis of the role of international courts in world politics. With its lucid new introduction,The European Court's Political Power is a "must read" for anyone seeking to understand international courts."
—Robert O. Keohane, Professor of International Affairs, Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs, Princeton University

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780199595143
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press, USA
  • Publication date: 9/1/2010
  • Pages: 350
  • Product dimensions: 6.10 (w) x 9.10 (h) x 0.90 (d)

Meet the Author

Karen J. Alter is Associate Professor of Political Science, Northwestern University. She is the author of Establishing the Supremacy of European Law: The Making of an International Rule of Law in Europe (OUP: 2001).

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Table of Contents

1. The European Court of Justice Across Time and Space
I. The ECJ During the Founding Period of Legal Integration (1952-1980)
2. The Theory and Reality of the European Coal and Steel Community
3. Transnational Jurist Advocacy Networks in Europe: The Role of Euro-law Associations in Promoting Supra-National Integration (1953-1970)
4. The European Court of Justice's Political Power
5. Who are the Masters of the Treaty? European Governments and the European Court of Justice
II. ECJ and its Varied Influence on European Policy & Politics (1980-2005)
6. Judicial Politics in the European Community: European Integration and the Pathbreaking Cassis de Dijon decision
7. Explaining Variation in the Use of European Litigation Strategies: EC law and UK Gender Equality Policy
8. The European Legal System and Domestic Policy: Spillover or Backlash?
9. Banana Splits: Nested and Competing Regimes in the Transatlantic Banana Trade Dispute
III. Beyond European Court Politics
10. The European Court and Legal Integration: An Exceptional Story or Harbinger of the Future?
11. Agents or Trustees? International Courts in their Political Context
12. Private Litigants and the New International Courts
13. Conclusion

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