Abstract. This article argues that constitutional courts in Western European parliamentary systems should be integrated into discussions of how public policies are changed, rather than being viewed as an external veto point. It attempts to bridge a gap between a judicial politics literature that focuses on the micro–level of individual judges’ votes and comparative scholarship that operates at the macro–level. A model for viewing constitutional courts as veto players, as a third institutional actor, is proposed and is then illustrated using the cases of legalizing divorce and blocking the executive reissuing decree laws in Italy. The model considers both the indirect and direct influences that constitutional courts can exert on the policy–making process. It also facilitates understanding and explaining the role of courts, as well as legislatures and executives, in conducting the interactions and bargaining that result in policy change.