This article analyzes whether the much-touted independence of the Conseil Constitutionnel (CC), the French Constitutional Court, is genuine. We construct a data set that comprises all the rulings of the CC between 1959 and 2006, taking into account the composition of the CC as well as the characteristics of the legislation reviewed by the judges. We find that the judges mainly rendered independent rulings when the polity was divided between left-wing and right-wing parties.
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Part of this research was conducted while I was visiting the Center for the Study of Public Choice at George Mason University, whom I thank for its hospitality. This article benefited from helpful discussions with William Broad, Miriam Krausz, Abraham Lioui, Michael Makowsky, Ilia Rainer, Hillel Rappaport, and, in particular, with Samia Tavares. Comments from three anonymous referees and, especially, from the editor (Pablo Spiller), on a previous version of this article entitled ‘‘Judicial activism in a civil-law regime: a study of the rulings of the French Constitutional Court, 1959–2006’’ were very helpful. Financial support from the Adar Foundation of the Economics Department of Bar-Ilan University is gratefully acknowledged. The usual disclaimer applies.