The Lawyers Did It
New research uncovers role of legal experts in Europe’s Racial Equality Directive
Posted: February 10, 2010
New research by alumna Rhonda Evans Case and Associate Professor Terri Givens analyzes the origins of Europe’s Racial Equality Directive, demonstrating that a coterie of lawyers pushed the anti-discrimination legal framework through the myriad of European Union institutions and into law. The directive liberalizes racial equality legal opportunity structures, meaning that the definition of discrimination has been broadened, evidentiary burdens for proving discrimination have been eased, burden of proof laws have shifted in favor of complainants, access to the courts has been widened, and the availability of legal advocacy resources increased. Contra to models that anticipate national politicians being agents of legal reform, who look to widen European jurisprudence and eliminate national comparative disadvantages, funnel controversial domestic issues into European courts, or otherwise advance their interests, Evans Case and Givens show that a lawyer-dominated coalition of NGOs led the drive to gain access to the courts and open the door to policymaking through litigation. This transnational coalition sought from the outset to constitutionally entrench their policy preferences and develop state financial as well as bureaucratic support for strategic litigation by interest groups.
“Re-engineering Legal Opportunity Structures in the European Union? The Starting Line Group and the Politics of the Racial Equality Directive,” appears in the March issue of Journal of Common Market Studies.