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The Corporate Origins of Judicial Review
Yale Law Journal (2006)
  • Mary Sarah Bilder, Boston College Law School

This Article argues that the origins of judicial review lie in corporate law. Diverging from standard historical accounts that locate the origins in theories of fundamental law or in the American structure of government, the Article argues that judicial review was the continuation of a longstanding English practice of constraining corporate ordinances by requiring that they be not repugnant to the laws of the nation. This practice of limiting legislation under the standard of repugnancy to the laws of England became applicable to American colonial law. The history of this repugnancy practice explains why the Framers of the Constitution presumed that judges would void legislation repugnant to the Constitution—what is now referred to as judicial review. This history helps to resolve certain debates over the origins of judicial review and also explains why the answer to other controversies over judicial review may not be easily found in the history of the Founding era. The assumption that legislation could not be repugnant to the Constitution produced judicial review, but it did not resolve issues such as departmentalism or judicial supremacy that arose with the continuation of this repugnancy practice after the Constitution.

  • judicial review,
  • corporate law,
  • corporations,
  • corporate ordinances,
  • fundamental law,
  • American government,
  • Constitution,
  • laws of England,
  • standard of repugnancy,
  • American colonial law,
  • Founding era,
  • departmentalism,
  • judicial supremacy
Publication Date
December, 2006
Citation Information
Mary Sarah Bilder. "The Corporate Origins of Judicial Review" Yale Law Journal Vol. 116 Iss. 3 (2006)
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