Dialogue as a method

In the end, the relational approach reflects simultaneously both the substance and the method of the project. This book offers an interpretative key to the Italian experience of constitutional adjudication focused on its dialogical approach; yet, the book itself is the result of an approach based on dialogue as a method.

Like the first book, this “sequel” also represents a conscious effort by all four of the coauthors to work in a systematically collaborative way. All the coauthors contributed substantially to the whole enterprise. In this, we have sought to emulate some of the most successful examples of comparative legal scholarship, which so often depend on collaborative efforts to be able to bridge the gaps of understanding across legal traditions. Comparative research is necessarily a cooperative effort. Our labours have brought together two comparatists and two constitutionalists, three Italians and one American, two women and two men, a constitutional judge and three professors - in short, a microcosm of constitutional dialogue to contribute to the macro-dynamics of global constitutionalism.

However, we decided to extend the conversation to other scholars -from Italy, elsewhere in Europe, and the United States, with three main purposes in mind:

  • a) to elaborate more on the core idea of the book, i.e. relationality as a distinguishing feature of the Italian constitutional court;
  • b) to fill some gaps left open in the first book, which have been the subject of important Italian scholarly debate on constitutional adjudication; and
  • c) to put the hypothesis of “relationality” to the test in areas we didn’t explore or we didn’t explore sufficiently in the first book, including in comparison with the experiences of other constitutional courts.

We decided to adopt the same methodology that we used for the first volume, but also including more actors, who are the contributors to this book. We convened a workshop focusing on six topics that needed a deeper analysis of the idea of relationality and amplifying our method. For each of the six topics we had two main goals: (a) to assess the presence and effectiveness of a relational approach in the work of the Italian Constitutional Court; and (b) to compare the Italian situation with other constitutional systems. To this end, for each topic an Italian scholar first prepared a paper focused on the Italian debate, but with an eye toward engaging in a comparative exchange. A scholar from outside of Italy then assumed the task of responding to the Italian colleague and amplifying the comparative perspective through their dialogue. In the end, we therefore hope to have achieved the result of analyzing relationality through a relational method: a real experiment in cooperative comparative constitutional law.

The workshop was held in Rome on July 12-13, 2018, thanks to the generosity of the University of Notre Dame. During the seminar the nonItalian scholars presented the Italian papers, each topic was deeply examined collectively, and for each one the discussion was dense and vibrant. The results of the debate were fruitful and somewhat unexpected showing the soundness of the method. All of us learned from one another: some of the ideas we had about the relational nature of the Italian Constitutional Court have evolved as a result of the workshop, and the present volume can be considered a step forward vis-a-vis Italian Constitutional Justice in Global Context.

The results of this comparative exercise provided some evidence that the idea of relationality is potentially applicable to a broader spectrum of cases, well beyond the Italian experience, and might be useful as a benchmark to classify different constitutional systems and also as an indicator of new emerging trends in global constitutional justice. Relationality can be adopted as a touchstone in order to measure and classify the various systems of constitutional adjudication along a scale from more relational toward less relational systems.

 
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