This paper conceptualizes the behavior of higher courts in the politics of former Soviet republics and attempts to set up a framework for the study of democratic contributions by post-Soviet constitutional courts. Although political expediency is noted to be the central driving force behind the judges’ decisions in politically sensitive cases, as courts are subject to different constraints from quasi-autocratic executives, it is argued that constitutional review tribunals are generally pro-democratic in their political orientation and that they can become the allies of pro-democratic parties in transitional periods of elite change. To support this proposition, this paper proceeds from a series of theoretical arguments to empirical observation of judicial behavior in times of political uncertainty, the latter being a perfect test for probing the political orientation of the courts.

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