Editorial | Volume 20 No. 4

Editorial | Volume 20 No. 4

Dear Readers,

It is with great pleasure that I announce the publication of vol 20(4) of the German Law Journal and our new call for special issue proposals for volumes 21 (2020) and 22 (2021).

The GLJ’s symposium on Populism and Constitutional Law took place at the London School of Economics on 25/26 April 2019. Beyond the critical engagement with the themes explored in our double special issue vol 20(2/3), the event gave us a chance to celebrate our 20th anniversary and our new cooperation with Cambridge University Press. CUP generously sponsored the symposium. We would like to thank all the contributors and participants for the compelling, timely, lively discussions around the different notions of populism.

The anniversary year marks many new beginnings for the Journal. Most significantly, we begin our innovative publication partnership with Cambridge University Press while preserving our pioneering commitment to open-access scholarship and our innovative, independent culture. But anniversaries also are an invitation to reflect on the Journal’s past accomplishments and to look back at our humble beginnings. Our established place in the scholarly discourse makes it easy to forget that the German Law Journal started as a simple, English-language newsletter on the German Constitutional Court’s case law. As research assistants of the Court, the co-founders, Russell A. Miller and Peer C. Zumbansen, shared their thoughts on the cases with the world and, for the first time, gave English-speaking scholars regular and timely access to developments in the German Constitutional Court’s case law. Very quickly the newsletter evolved into a proper law journal, but with its base in the Internet. The coverage expanded to include scholarship and commentary on comparative, transnational, and European law. The founders also expanded the Journal’s community and welcomed the support of a young and energetic editorial team. They were not short on ambition for this new journal. The editors fostered European-American (transnational) intellectual engagement, published risky but creative new projects, and supported young and emerging scholars. While much has changed since then, we are determined that the Journal continue to motivate emerging voices and diverse scholars to explore uncharted waters, to leave their comfort zones, and to imagine new and exciting projects with us. In the words of the co-founders: “do not ask for permission or if it is even possible, if you have an idea, no matter how big or small, just do it!”

One obvious way to work with us is as a guest editor for a special issue. For that purpose, please consider our call for special issue proposals for volumes 21 (2020) and 22 (2021). The submission deadline for the proposals is the 10th of October 2019.

The current issue provides a selective view of the German Law Journal’s intellectual journeys and ambitions.

Recognising the German-American relationship that lies at the heart of the Journal’s foundation, we acknowledge with deep sorrow the passing of Professor Donald P. Kommers, a pioneer of comparative constitutional law who introduced American academia to German constitutional law. With our memorial collection – including reprints of several of his excellent articles and memorial essays from a number of scholars – we hope to recognize his contribution to German-American relations, his contribution to comparative constitutional law, and his role as mentor and colleague. He will be missed.

Beyond that impressive but sobering collection, the current issue explores methodological as well as substantive concepts of international and European law.

Burchardt’s article offers a critical picture of the functions of international law. She challenges us to appreciate the particularities that the potential functions of law encounter in the international context. Moreover, she suggests a new analytical lens to conceptually frame and locate current developments. A rather different methodological angle is put forward by Pirker and Smolka. Cognitive science, or more specifically cognitive pragmatics, is used to shed light on the interpretation of international law. The article puts the interpreter at the centre of the international law enterprise. From that perspective, cognitive insights help to explain how international courts, academics, or lawyers process legal texts and approach their conclusions. Pirker and Smolka discuss, for example, how international law interpreters are influenced by their socialisation and the framing of the issue with which they are confronted. Both articles highlight the various methodological contextual challenges we face when engaging with international law. As such, the relevance of these insights is not limited to international law. They inform other fields such as comparative law research.

Turning towards concepts of international law, Dellavalle discusses the difficulties with a newly emerging discourse on responsibilities within international human rights and suggests instead a modified idea of the autonomous communication community based on mutual recognition. Moreover, within the context of EU law, Willems’s article discusses the concept of mutual trust within EU criminal law and the Court of Justice’s role in establishing, upholding, and qualifying the mutual trust assumption to ensure a high level of fundamental human rights protection within the EU.

Last but not least, we continue to follow recent developments in German law by publishing an essay on the German concept of “entrapment” following the ECtHR’s decision on the subject. The issue concludes with Möschel’s review of James Whitman’s book Hitler’s American Model. The United States and the Making of Nazi Race Law.

As always, happy reading!

Jule Mulder

on behalf of the Editors