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Carl Schmitt’s Turn to Sovereignty in Jurisprudence

DOI: 10.4236/blr.2018.92015, PP. 211-234

Keywords: Authority of Law, Decisionism, Juristic Thought, Sovereign Jurisprudence

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Carl Schmitt’s early proposal to better unify the liberal state, by locating sovereignty in the executive, proved a disaster with the National Socialist regime. But sovereignty concerns a state’s internal as well as international relations, and Schmitt came to argue in the 1940s that an authoritative and sovereign form of international law might offer standards for unifying states within an international community, much as the Catholic Church once provided an intra-state source of law and authority. Unlike recent work that emphasizes Nomos, Großraum, or “institutional thinking,” this essay argues that Schmitt sought such a sovereign jurisprudence in the decisions of judges and justified it with the conservative claims of historical continuity.


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