Virginia Journal of International Law
Comparative lawyers, working with blunt taxonomies such as “legal families,” have been satisfied with characterizing Germany as representative or a member of the “Germanic-Roman” law tradition. The life of the Federal Republic’s post-war legal culture, however, reveals a richly more complicated story. The civil law tradition, with its emphasis on abstract conceptualism and codification, remains dominant. But it has had to accommodate a new, vigorous constitutionalism that bears many of the traits of the common law tradition, including judicial supremacy and a form of case law. This is the encounter of discrete legal traditions within a particular legal system that H. Patrick Glenn imagined. The dialogue between the civil law and common law traditions in the German legal system has produced symbiotic effects. In this article, I suggest a number of ways in which Germany’s prevailing civil law culture uniquely shapes and marks its constitutional law regime, producing Germany’s distinctly German constitutional law.
Russell A. Miller, Germany's German Constitution, 57 Va. J. Int'l L. 95 (2017).