In This Review

The Struggle for Constitutional Justice in Post-Communist Europe
The Struggle for Constitutional Justice in Post-Communist Europe
By Herman Schwartz
University of Chicago Press, 2000, 347 pp.

One measure of the progress toward democracy in post-communist regimes is the extent to which the executive and legislative branches are subject to judicial review, for the notion of the separation of powers goes to the heart of the modern mechanics of democracy. An expert on judicial review, Schwartz examines five countries where constitutional courts now exist -- Poland, Hungary, Russia, Bulgaria, and Slovakia -- and finds that in all cases but one (Russia), the courts have come to play an important role in establishing the rule of law, protecting human rights, and giving meaning to constitutionalism. Some have even dismissed parliamentary statutes more frequently than the U.S. Supreme Court and their western European counterparts have done. But the courts' emergence has been a struggle, marked by their own missteps and the stress of political upheaval affecting all these countries. Schwartz tallies the results optimistically, with a patient but critical eye.