Cultures of Deliberation in Constitutional Courts

Available in Russian

Available for free

Author: Gertrude Lübbe-Wolff

DOI: 10.21128/1812-7126-2017-5-15-29

Keywords: выработка судебного решения; коллегиальный (per curiam); обсуждение; раздельный (seriatim); совещание судей


The article provides an overview of two models of judicial decision-making that differ in the kind of judges’ communication and collaboration. In the seriatim model, judges sequentially articulate their opinions about the decision in a conference. These opinions are not discussed any more. The reasons for the decision, if any, are a collection of individual opinions. In the per curiam model, on the contrary, the court tries to work out reasons that can be accepted by all or by as many as possible judges that consider the case. In both models, a ruling of a court is adopted by voting. The seriatim model had been established first and still influences the Common law tradition. Afterwards, the per curiam model evolved in the later Middle Ages in Europe; nowadays this model is preferred in the Civil law tradition. Meanwhile, both models have converged by the mutual exchange of several properties. The introduction of the mandatory publication of reasons for a judgement was the most important step in the development of the per curiam model, which increased the quality requirements for judgements as well as transformed them into an effective tool for law improvement. Due to this fact, the per curiam model better meets the needs of societies where law exhibits a certain degree of complexity. The per curiam model provides additional advantages for constitutional courts that have to resolve politically controversial cases in polarized societies.

About the author: Gertrude Lübbe-Wolff – Professor of public law, University of Bielefeld, Bielefeld, Germany; judge of the Federal Constitutional Court of Germany (2002–2014).

Citation: Lübbe-Wolff G. (2017) O razlichnykh kul’turakh soveshchaniya sudey v konstitutsionnykh sudakh [Cultures of deliberation in constitutional courts]. Sravnitel’noe konstitutsionnoe obozrenie, no.5(120), pp.15–29. (In Russian).


Bercholc J.O. (2016) La producción del Tribunal Constitucional español a través del ejercicio del Control de Constitucionalidad de los actos normativos de los otros poderes políticos del Estado (1980–2011): Tesis de Doctorado, Universidad de Castilla-La Mancha.

Black R.C., Johnson T.R., Wedeking J. (2012) Oral Arguments and Coalition Formation on the U.S. Supreme Court: A Deliberate Dialogue, Ann Arbor, MI: University of Michigan Press.

Corley P.C., Steigerwalt A., Ward A. (2013) The Puzzle of Unanimity: Consensus on the United States Supreme Court, Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press.

Dawson J.P. (1968) The Oracles of the Law, Ann Arbor, MI: University of Michigan Law School.

Denniston L. (2011) Court Sets 5 1/2-Hour Hearing on Health Care. Available at: (accessed: 17.09.2017).

Ernst W. (2012) Abstimmen über Rechtserkenntnis: Gedanken zur Entscheidungsfindung in Richterkollegien. JuristenZeitung (JZ), vol.67, no.13, pp.637–648.

Ernst W. (2016) Rechtserkenntnis durch Richtermehrheiten: “group choice” in europäischen Justiztraditionen, Tübingen: Mohr Siebeck.

Ferejohn J., Pasquino P. (2002) Constitutional Courts as Deliberative Institutions: Towards an Institutional Theory of Constitutional Justice. In: Sadurski W. (ed.) Constitutional Justice, East and West: Democratic Legitimacy and Constitutional Courts in Post-Communist Europe in a Comparative Perspective, The Hague: Kluwer Law International, pp.21–36.

Hale B. (2010) Judgment Writing in the Supreme Court. UKSC blog, 25 October. Available at: (accessed: 18.09.2017).

Henderson M.T. (2007) From ‘Seriatim’ to Consensus and Back Again: A theory of Dissent: University of Chicago Public Law & Legal Theory Working Paper No.186. Available at: (accessed: 18.09.2017).

Hocks S. (2002) Gerichtsgeheimnis und Begründungszwang: Zur Publizität der Entscheidungsgründe im Ancien Régime und im frühen 19. Jahrhundert, Frankfurt am Main: Klostermann.

Jefferson T. (1984) Letter to Justice William Johnson (Monticello, June 12, 1823). In: Peterson M.D. (ed.) Thomas Jefferson: Writings, New York: Library of America, pp.1469–1477.

Johnson T.R. (2004) Oral Arguments and Decision Making on the United States Supreme Court, Albany, NY: State University of New York Press.

Johnson T.R., Spriggs J.F., II, Wahlbeck P.J. (2005) Passing and Strategic Voting on the U.S. Supreme Court. Law and Society Review, vol.39, no.2, pp.349–377.

Kirby M.D. (2007) Judicial Dissent – Common Law and Civil Law Traditions. Law Quarterly Review, vol.123, pp.379–400.

Kornhauser L.A., Sager L.G. (2004) The Many as One: Integrity and Group Choice in Paradoxical Cases. Philosophy & Public Affairs, vol.32, no.3, pp.249–276. Available at: (accessed: 18.09.2017).

Krischer A. (2017) Die Macht des Verfahrens: Englische Hochverratsprozesse 1554–1848. Münster: Aschendorff.

Laffranque J. (2003) Dissenting Opinions and Judicial Independence. Juridica International, vol.VIII, pp.162–172. Available at: (accessed: 18.09.2017).

Levmore S. (2002) Ruling Majorities and Reasoning Pluralities. Theoretical Inquiries in Law, vol.3, no.1, pp.87–123.

Liptak A. (2015) Right Divided, a Disciplined Left Steered the Supreme Court. New York Times, 30 June. Available at: (accessed: 17.09.2017).

Lübbe-Wolff G. (2014) Die Beratungskultur des Bundesverfassungsgerichts. Rede zur Verabschiedung aus dem Amt der Richterin des Bundesverfassungsgerichts. Europäische Grundrechte-Zeitschrift (EuGRZ), vol.41, no.17–19, pp.509–512.

Mak E. (2013) Judicial Decision-Making in a Globalised World: A Comparative Analysis of the Changing Practices of Western Highest Courts. Oxford; Portland, OR: Hart Publishing.

Malphurs R.A. (2013) Rhetoric and Discourse in Supreme Court Oral Arguments: Sensemaking in Judicial Decisions, New York: Routledge.

Mendes C.H. (2013) Constitutional Courts and Deliberative Democracy, Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Nadelmann K.H. (1959) The Judicial Dissent: Publication v. Secrecy. The American Journal of Comparative Law, vol.8, no.4, pp.415–432.

Nash J.R. (2003) A Context-Sensitive Voting Protocol Paradigm for Multimember Courts. Stanford Law Review, vol.56, no.1, pp.75–159.

Paterson A. (2013) Final Judgment: The Last Law Lords and the Supreme Court, Oxford; Portland, OR: Hart Publishing.

Peters R. (ed.) (1844) Condensed Reports of Cases in the Supreme Court of the United States. Vol.1, 3rd ed., Philadelphia, PA: Thomas, Cowperthwait & Co. Available at:;view=1up;seq=9 (accessed: 18.09.2017).

Post D., Salop S.C. (1992) Rowing Against the Tidewater: A Theory of Voting by Multijudge Panels. Georgetown Law Journal, vol.80, no.3, pp.743–774.

Raffaelli R. (2012) Dissenting Opinions in the Supreme Courts of the Member States. Brussels: European Parliament: Directorate General for Internal Policies. Available at: (accessed: 18.09.2017).

Rath Ch. (2016) Richter Masings Werk. Badische Zeitung, 21. April. Available at: (accessed: 17.09.2017).

Sauvel T. (1955) Histoire du jugement motivé. Revue du droit public et de la science politique en France et à l’étranger, vol.61, pp.5–53.

Schnapper D. (2010) Une sociologue au Conseil constitutionnel, Paris: Gallimard.

Sellert W. (1973) Prozessgrundsätze und Stilus Curiae am Reichshofrat im Vergleich mit den gesetzlichen Grundlagen des reichskammergerichtlichen Verfahrens, Aalen: Scientia.

Sellert W. (1986) Zur Geschichte der rationalen Urteilsbegründung gegenüber den Parteien insbesondere am Beispiel des Reichshofrats und des Reichskammergerichts. In: Dilcher G., Diestelkamp B. (eds.) Recht, Gericht, Genossenschaft und Policey: Studien zu Grunbegriffen der germanistischen Rechtshistorie, Berlin: Erich Schmidt, pp.97–113.

Da Silva V.A. (2013) Deciding without Deliberating. International Journal of Constitutional Law, vol.11, no.3, pp.557–584. Available at: (accessed: 19.09.2017).

Spriggs J.F., II, Maltzman F., Wahlbeck P.J. (1999) Bargaining on the U.S. Supreme Court: Justices’ Responses to Majority Opinion Drafts. The Journal of Politics, vol.61, no.2, pp.485–506.

Spriggs J.F., II, Stras D.R. (2011) Explaining Plurality Decisions. The Georgetown Law Journal, vol.99, pp.515–570.

Stearns M.L. (2000) Constitutional Process: A Social Choice Analysis of Supreme Court Decision Making, Ann Arbor, MI: The University of Michigan Press.

Sunstein C.R. (2000) Deliberative Trouble? Why Groups Go to Extremes. The Yale Law Journal, vol.110, no.1, pp.71–119.

Sunstein C.R. (2015) Unanimity and Disagreement on the Supreme Court. Cornell Law Review, vol.100, no.4, pp.769–823. Available at: (accessed: 17.09.2017).

Toobin J. (2007) The Nine: Inside the Secret World of the Supreme Court, New York: Anchor Books.

Toobin J. (2012) The Oath: The Obama White House and the Supreme Court, New York: Doubleday.

Do Vale A.R. (2014) É preciso repensar a deliberação no Supremo Tribunal Federal. Consultor Jurídico, 1 de Fevereiro. Available at: (accessed: 19.09.2017).

Do Vale A.R. (2015) Argumentação constitucional: Um estudo sobre a deliberação nos Tribunais Constitucionais: Tese de doutorado, Universidad de Alicante / Universidade de Brasília. Available at: (accessed: 18.09.2017).

Wiggenhorn H. (1966) Der Reichskammergerichtsprozeß am Ende des Alten Reiches: Dissertation, Universität Münster.

Wrightsman L. (2008) Oral Arguments Before the Supreme Court: An Empirical Approach. Oxford, New York: Oxford University Press.

Wunderlich S. (2010) Über die Begründung von Urteilen am Reichskammergericht im frühen 16. Jahrhundert. Wetzlar: Gesellschaft für Reichskammergerichtsforschung.

Young C. (2009) The History of Judicial Dissent in England: What relevance does it have for modem common law legal systems. Australian Bar Review, vol.32, pp.96–111.

ZoBell K.M. (1959) Division of Opinion in the Supreme Court: A History of Judicial Disintegration. Cornell Law Review, vol.44, no.2, pp.186–214.