How Does the European Court of Justice Reason? A Review Essay on the Legal Reasoning of the European Court of Justice

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Series Details Vol.20, No.3, May 2014, p423–435
Publication Date May 2014
ISSN 1351-5993 (Print) / 1468-0386 (Online)
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This review essay analyses two significant recent contributions to the debate over the reasoning of the Court of Justice (CJ). These contributions highlight the impossibility of a wholly scientific and deductive approach to attributing ‘correct’ outcomes to the Court's case-law. At the same time, their analysis adds significant findings for the debate over the Court's possible ‘activist’ or political role. Following from these contributions, this essay makes two arguments: firstly, that the inability of the Court to anchor its reasoning solely in a deductive form of legal reasoning should encourage the CJ to engage in a more advanced ‘constitutional dialogue’ with the EU's political institutions; and secondly, that truly understanding the Court's reasoning involves a closer analysis of the institutional and personal dynamics influencing Court decisions. Understanding European judicial reasoning may require a closer look at the social and political—as well as doctrinal—context within which European judges act.

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