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German Law Journal - Special Issue on Stone Sweet 8.10 (2007): 915-928.


This essay is a true working paper, a work-in-progress that raises a set of questions that I am not yet sure how to answer. The questions are not unknown; indeed, they lurk in the shadows of scholarly discourse on the three systems I will examine. They are, however, often ignored in research and commentary on the constitutional law, and they have never been the focus of comparative inquiry. I nonetheless will argue that the answers one gives to them will bear directly on how we should understand the nature, evolution, and political (i.e., normative) legitimacy of legal systems.

The paper focuses on authority problems created by the juridical coup d’état. In part A, I define that concept, and discuss some of the theoretical problems that would necessarily be posed if an instance of a juridical coup d’état could, in fact, be identified. In part B, I describe three such instances, summarize the main systemic consequences for each case, and provide illustrations of the authority problems produced. In part C, I address various theoretical issues in light of the empirics.

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