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Balancing Constitutional Rights: the origins and meanings of postwar legal discourse

Jacco Bomhoff
Cambridge University Press (January 2014)

The language of balancing is pervasive in constitutional rights jurisprudence around the world. In this book, Jacco Bomhoff offers a comparative and historical account of the origins and meanings of this talismanic form of language, and of the legal discourse to which it is central. Contemporary discussion has tended to see the increasing use of balancing as the manifestation of a globalisation of constitutional law. This book is the first to argue that 'balancing' has always meant radically different things in different settings. Bomhoff uses detailed case studies of early post war US and German constitutional jurisprudence to show that the same unique language expresses both biting scepticism and profound faith in law and adjudication, and both deep pessimism and high aspirations for constitutional rights. An understanding of these radically different meanings is essential for any evaluation of the work of constitutional courts today.

  • Jacco Bomhoff is an Associate Professor in Law at LSE. He studied law at Leiden University in the Netherlands, and at the University of Oxford, on a Dutch National Science Foundation Talent Scholarship. He also completed a program in political science at the Institut d'Études Politiques (Sciences Po) in Paris, France. Before coming to LSE in 2008, he taught at Leiden University's Faculty of Law. In 2005 he received an Allen & Overy research scholarship for a study on European conflicts of jurisdiction law. In 2006 he spent a semester as a visiting assistant professor at the University of California – Hastings College of the Law.

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