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428 Annals of Am. Acad. of Pol. & Soc. Sci. 52 (1976)


The doctrine of judicial review, having been nourished in a legal culture and socio-political environment favorable to its growth, is America’s most distinctive contribution to constitutional government. Judicial review as historically practiced in the United States was duly recorded abroad, with varying degrees of influence and acceptability. During the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, the influence of judicial review was most conspicuous in Latin America, where it was adopted as an articulate principle of numerous national constitutions, while most European nations consciously rejected it as incompatible with the prevailing theory of separation of powers. Germany, Austria, and Switzerland, although marginally influenced by the American experience, developed, as did several commonwealth nations, their own variants of judicial review. Since World War II, judicial review has emerged as a governing principle, partly in response to the excesses of prewar popular democracies, in the constitutions of many countries, including those of emergent nations of Asia and Africa. But in nearly all of these new nations, including Latin American nations, judicial review has not developed into an effective instrument of limited government. On the other hand, it has worked well in Japan, West Germany, and Italy, whose postwar constitutions were strongly influenced by the United States. Recent experience shows that judicial review works best in advanced, middle-class societies firmly committed to the idea of limited government.



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