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Why Dismiss a Good Case? Dual-Purpose Judicial Institutions In Constitutional Courts Under Autocracy: Evidence from Russia


  • Ivan Grigoriev

    () (National Research University Higher School of Economics)


The Russian Constitutional Court (RCC) has over time developed a practice of adopting so-called “positive dismissals” (Pozitivnoe Opredelenie) which complements (but also undermines) the existent formal procedure of only delivering decisions on merits with Rulings (Postanovlenie). The paper explores the uses of this peculiar practice. I show that Positive Dismissals are used by the Court to overcome the rigidity of the formal procedure where this is necessary for reasons of intraorganizational or political expediency. To do that I construct and analyze quantitatively a unique comprehensive dataset of all decisions handed down by the RCC roughly in the first two decades of its existence (1995-2015, N=22334). I show that “positive dismissals” are used whenever the case is deemed too important to be simply dismissed (for example, if it is submitted by a powerful petitioner), or when the Court cannot dismiss a case but wants to keep low profile to avoid political risks (for example, with the politically salient cases during election years).

Suggested Citation

  • Ivan Grigoriev, 2018. "Why Dismiss a Good Case? Dual-Purpose Judicial Institutions In Constitutional Courts Under Autocracy: Evidence from Russia," HSE Working papers WP BRP 60/PS/2018, National Research University Higher School of Economics.
  • Handle: RePEc:hig:wpaper:60/ps/2018

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Pepinsky, Thomas, 2014. "The Institutional Turn in Comparative Authoritarianism," British Journal of Political Science, Cambridge University Press, vol. 44(03), pages 631-653, July.
    2. repec:taf:ceasxx:v:63:y:2011:i:3:p:449-465 is not listed on IDEAS
    3. Gely, Rafael & Spiller, Pablo T., 1992. "The political economy of supreme court constitutional decisions: The case of Roosevelt's court-packing plan," International Review of Law and Economics, Elsevier, vol. 12(1), pages 45-67, March.
    4. Gely, Rafael & Spiller, Pablo T, 1990. "A Rational Choice Theory of Supreme Court Statutory Decisions with Applications to the State Farm and Grove City Cases," Journal of Law, Economics, and Organization, Oxford University Press, vol. 6(2), pages 263-300, Fall.
    5. Raphaël Franck, 2009. "Judicial Independence Under a Divided Polity: A Study of the Rulings of the French Constitutional Court, 1959--2006," Journal of Law, Economics, and Organization, Oxford University Press, vol. 25(1), pages 262-284, May.
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    More about this item


    Russian Constitutional Court; authoritarianism; constitutional review.;

    JEL classification:

    • K41 - Law and Economics - - Legal Procedure, the Legal System, and Illegal Behavior - - - Litigation Process
    • D73 - Microeconomics - - Analysis of Collective Decision-Making - - - Bureaucracy; Administrative Processes in Public Organizations; Corruption

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