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Constituting Federal Sovereignty

, 256 pages
May 2003
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Constituting Federal Sovereignty

The European Union in Comparative Context

Starting from the premise that the system of independent, sovereign, territorial states, which was the subject of political science and international relations studies in the twentieth century, has entered a transition toward something new, noted political scientist Leslie F. Goldstein examines the development of the European Union by blending comparative and historical institutionalist approaches. She argues that the most useful framework for understanding the kinds of "supra-state" formations that are increasingly apparent in the beginning of the third millennium is comparative analysis of the formative epochs of federations of the past that formed voluntarily from previously independent states.

In Constituting Federal Sovereignty: The European Union in Comparative Context Goldstein identifies three significant predecessors to today's European Union: the Dutch Union of the 17th century, the United States of America from the 1787 Constitution to the Civil War, and the first half-century of the modern Swiss federation, beginning in 1848. She examines the processes by which federalization took place, what made for its success, and what contributed to its problems. She explains why resistance to federal authority, although similar in kind, varied significantly in degree in the cases examined. And she explores the crucial roles played by such factors as sovereignty-honoring elements within the institutional structure of the federation, the circumstances of its formation (revolt against distant empire versus aftermath of war among member states), and notably, the internal culture of respect for the rule of law in the member states.

Leslie Friedman Goldstein is Unidel Professor of Political Science and International Relations in the Department of Political Science and International Relations at the University of Delaware. She is the author of Constitutional Rights of Women, Contemporary Cases in Women's Rights, In Defense of the Text: Democracy and Constitutional Theory, and Feminist Jursiprudence: The Difference Debate.

"A very neat, thorough and interesting study for all scholars trying to understand the working of 'shared powers', may it be at the international, supranational or national level."

"A book of substantial interest and considerable scholarship."

"A very impressive and thought-provoking book that contributes to the research stream represented by books on the impact of European Courts on European 'constitutional' politics."

"Professor Goldstein does an admirable job bringing the European Union into comparative context."

"A well-focused application of comparative federalism."

"A very welcome addition to the literature on federal systems."

"An excellent example of the successful merger of the interests of comparative history, politics, and jurisprudence... The writing is clear, the argumentation is fair and precise, and the logic is lucid. The book makes a significant contribution to the field of comparative federalism and should be widely accepted a s a basic reference work for study in this field."

"This book is a substantial contribution to the field. Seeking to understand how federal states succeed in holding themselves together, Professor Goldstein contrasts the experience of the early American union, dominated by fractious and sometimes violent jurisdictional disputes, with the more placid post-World War Two experience of the European Union. It is here that her work really shines. Her method of comparing modern federal structures is sound and her scholarship is very thorough."

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