The Rivista trimestrale di diritto pubblico (in English, Public Law Quarterly Review) was founded in 1951 and has since been the main scientific point of reference for Italian constitutional and administrative law scholars. Over the years it has been directed by the most renowned Italian public law scholars of the twentieth century: Guido Zanobini since foundation through 1965, Massimo Severo Giannini from 1965 to 2000, Sabino Cassese from 2000 to date.
Currently, the Editorial Board includes some of the most prominent Italian and foreign scholars in the field of public law. Foreign members of the Scientific Board are Jean-Bernard Auby, Full Professor and Director of the Center on Changes in Governance and Public Law at Sciences Po Paris; Francesca Bignami, Professor at George Washington University Law School; Armin von Bogdandy, Professor of Public Law and International Law at the University of Heidelberg School of Law and Director of the Heidelberg Max Planck Institute for Comparative Public Law and International Law; Mark Thatcher, Professor of Comparative and International Politics at London School of Economics; Joseph H.H. Weiler, President of the European University Institute in Florence and Joseph Straus Professor of Law and European Union Jean Monnet Chair at New York University Law School.
The Review counts almost 600 subscribers, including individuals, universities, research institutes, and libraries of the main governmental bodies and highest courts in Italy and worldwide. International subscribers include prominent universities such as Cornell University (Ithaca, NY, USA), University of California Berkeley (Berkeley, CA, USA), the European University Institute (Florence, Italy), the Max Planck Institute for Comparative Public Law and International Law (Heidelberg, Germany), the Pontificia Universidad Catolica de Chile (Santiago, Chile), the University of Macau (Macau, China), but also judicial and political institutions, such as the Consejo de Estado (Madrid, Spain), the Spanish Ministry of Justice (Madrid, Spain), the Council of the European Union (Brussels, Belgium), the European Investment Bank (Luxembourg), and the City of Paris (Paris, France). Therefore, the Review can be found in some of the most important academic libraries in the world, such as those of Yale University, Harvard University, and Stanford University in the USA, and of Oxford University in the UK.
The Review has been ranked by the Italian Agenzia Nazionale di Valutazione del Sistema Universitario e della Ricerca (Anvur; in English, National Agency for the Evaluation of Universities and Research Institutes) at the top of its rating scale (A).
The Review’s principal focus is on publishing salient and original essays in public and administrative law, written by leading academics as well as promising young scholars. In addition to essays, the journal features short articles, legal news, book reviews, bibliographic profiles and information. The Review also publishes yearly reports, on EU law and on Italian constitutional and administrative law – which provide a brief overview of the main tendencies and events occurring in the field during the year under examination -, reviews of documents and parliamentary inquiries, and commentaries of the main constitutional and administrative law books. The Review requires authors to commit to not publish elsewhere the works that it accepts for publication. The approval of articles follows a rigorous and highly selective process of peer review.
In 1951, in the Editorial to the first issue, Zanobini pointed out that “the pure legal method is the essence of every scientific research [ …] in the field of public law disciplines”. However, he added that scientific research cannot be exclusively theoretical, nor can it stand “outside the social reality that gives content to the law”. Following the guidelines set by its founder, the Review’s aim has been to understand and interpret the changes that administrative law has gone and is going through, checking the appropriateness of the concepts developed by legal scholars and proposing new ones, but always retaining the empirical analysis of the phenomena as a starting point.
Therefore, the Review’s contents have developed along the lines of the main and most significant changes in contemporary public law.
These include, first of all, the evolution of the legal framework governing public administration, especially in certain sectors. The Review has dealt with issues such as the strong administrative delegification, the adoption of general laws governing the duties of the public administration, the allocation of statutory powers to autonomous public bodies, the integration of legal sources that regulate administrative activity – ordinary laws, the Constitution, European and other supranational legal sources – as well as the multiplication of interactions among different levels of government are all trends to which the Review has devoted in-depth analyses.
On several occasions, the Review has hosted contributions that acknowledged and explored the mutual rapprochement of constitutional law and administrative law, to which Constitutional Courts have contributed by applying constitutional rules to administrative rights, and Constitutions themselves by dictating principles of administrative law. Such continuity and contiguity have resulted in the expansion of administrative law toward constitutional law, with the consequence that administrative law must be anchored to a double parameter of legality: the Constitution, in addition to ordinary laws.
Moreover, although the analysis of European Union law is not its exclusive purpose, the Review has gathered a number of important contributions concerning the strengthening ties between States and the European Union and the related consequences, such as: a closer collaboration and coordination among national administrations, and between these and the European Union; the breaking of the traditional link between nationality and the exercise of public function; the extension of European standards and rules to Member States’ citizens, either directly or through the transposition of these rules by national legislators; the development of EU principles guiding national administrative law, such as non-discrimination and transparency; the diffusion, at the European level, of principles developed by national administrative laws, such as that of proportionality.
Furthermore, in an innovative way with respect to other journals, some of the essays most recently published in the Review have explored the dynamics and problems related to the erosion of the concept of the State as the main source of law, an erosion operated by multilateral and international organizations that regulate areas of activity which were once the exclusive domain of the State, such as the trading of currencies and financial instruments, the activity of police, defense, and the regulation of trade. The Review published the first pioneering studies on global administrative law, which have been echoed in administrative and international law studies in the United States, as well as in France, Great Britain and Germany. Global administrative law, understood as a set of administrative rules developed by international organizations and networks of global regulators and applicable to States or directly to citizens, was examined both as a unitary concept, and in its sectorial applications, for example in the field of financial markets regulation, internet regulation, environmental protection, international organizations and financed procurement.
Overall, the Review has been and still is a fundamental tool for scholars of public law and for all those who wish to understand the new trends of administrative law, in light of its historic foundations, of its rules and regulations and of the practical life of public institutions.