Leibniz Linguistic Research into Constitutional Law

The Federal Constitutional Court (Bundesverfassungsgericht) has been reviewing the constitutionality of state action for more than 60 years. All decisions of both Senates – currently approx. 3.300 – are included in the official compilation comprising 142 volumes. In addition, the Court has published approx. 6.000 Chamber’s decisions since 1998. Legal scholars using traditional methods can only analyse and process a selection out of this vast quantity of text. In doing so, information about the whole body of case-law may be lost. By contrast, the application of methods from computational and corpus linguistics allows for computer-aided, partially automated analyses, thus opening up possibilities to answer entirely new research questions.

The aim of the Leibniz Project „Leibniz Linguistic Research into Constitutional Law“ is to create a fully annotated corpus of the Federal Constitutional Court’s decisions, and on that basis, carry out legal and linguistic analyses. In addition to part-of-speech- and lemma-tagging, the decisions will be enriched with numerous legal annotations, which will allow a computer-assisted analysis of the decision and its basic structure. Furthermore, our corpus-based research seeks to uncover recurring patterns of argumentation and provide new insights into the way in which the Court refers to legislation and literature.