Amalia Kessler


Mitchel de S.-O.-L'E. Lasser, Judicial Deliberations: A Comparative Analysis of Judicial Transparency and Legitimacy. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2004. Pp. 382. $99.00 (cloth).

Mitchel de S.-O.-L'E. Lasser's Judicial Deliberations is an ambitious, important, and innovative book, which adds greatly to our understanding of particular legal systems, of the ways in which differing configurations of discourse and institutional practice promote core rule-of-law values, and of comparative methodology itself. Beautifully written and wideranging in scope, it is likely to become a classic in the field.

Lasser pursues three different, but interrelated goals, which I address, in turn, below. First, he describes judicial discourse in the French and American legal systems (as well as in the European Court of Justice (ECJ)) and does so in a way that significantly challenges and reworks the paradigm long established among American comparative-law scholars. Second, he argues that each system's judicial discourse (along with its ideological and institutional commitments) leads it to pursue (and follows from) its own distinctive solution to fundamental problems in democratic governance, including ensuring judicial accountability and promoting meaningful deliberation. Third, he reflects on the nature of comparative methodology and argues for the need to overcome comparatists' tendency to identify themselves as proponents of either similarity or difference.