Sean Gailmard, UC Berkeley - American Politics Speakers Series


Wednesday, November 8, 2017, 4:30pm to 6:00pm


K262, CGIS Knafel Building, 1737 Cambridge St.

Please join us on Nov. 8 for the following talk with Sean Gailmard, Prof. of Political Science, UC Berkeley.

"Imperial Politics, English Law, and the Strategic Foundations of Judicial Review in America"

In the colonial period of American history, the royal Privy Council evaluated acts of colonial assemblies on grounds of both policy and higher law. Assembly acts were sometimes nullified through this process. In this way, Council review constituted the origin of judicial review in America. This paper presents a formal model of this review procedure to understand its strategic value to the imperial crown. I argue that Privy Council legislative review counteracted political pressure on imperial governors in the colonies, to approve laws contrary to the empire’s interests. Optimal review in the model combines both legal and substantive considerations, because this gives governors strong incentives to avoid higher level review by vetoing bad laws. Thus, in addition to obvious benefits for legal consistency in the empire, legislative review helped the crown to grapple with agency problems in imperial governance.

This talk is part of the American Politics Speaker Series, organized by Prof. Jon Rogowski and sponsored by the Harvard Department of Government and the Center for American Political Studies (CAPS). This event is free and open to the public. 

See also: Seminar