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On Judicial Review in a Separation of Powers System*

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  30 January 2015


The institution of judicial review is an important mechanism of holding the government legally accountable, nevertheless questions remain about its proper role in a separation of powers system. This article analyzes the effect of judicial review on the policy-making process from an expertise perspective. It shows that the exercise of non-expert judicial review can induce more informed policies and that non-expert courts have incentives to exercise judicial review in a manner consistent with institutional concerns for expertise. In addition to its importance as a mechanism of legal accountability, our analysis underscores another virtue of judicial review: legal review of governmental policy by non-expert courts can improve the amount of information available for policy making. The article contributes to a literature on the scope and legitimacy of judicial review and has broader implications for understanding the effect of institutional checks and balances on the quality of policy making.

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© The European Political Science Association 2015 

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Tiberiu Dragu is Assistant Professor of Politics, New York University, 19 West 4th, New York, NY 10012 (; Oliver Board is an Attorney in private practice ( The authors thank Livio Di Lonardo, John Ferejohn, Xiaochen Fan, Mattias Polborn, Matthew Stephenson and seminar participants at New York University, Stanford University and University of Illinois for useful comments and suggestions. All errors are ours. To view supplementary material for this article, please visit 10.1017/psrm.2014.44


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