Blog of the International Journal of Constitutional Law

Towards a “Thin” Basic Structure Doctrine in Singapore (I-CONnect Column)

Jaclyn L. Neo, National University of Singapore Faculty of Law

[Editor’s note: This is one of our biweekly I-CONnect columns. Columns, while scholarly in accordance with the tone of the blog and about the same length as a normal blog post, are a bit more “op-ed” in nature than standard posts. For more information about our four columnists for 2018, see here.]

The basic structure doctrine has travelled some ways since it was first articulated by the Indian Supreme Court in the case of Kesavananda Bharati v State of Kerala.[1] The doctrine imposes substantive limits on constitutional amendment powers: it holds that while the legislature has power to amend the constitution according to stated procedure, such power is subject to an implied limitation that the amendment must not destroy the “basic structure” or “basic features” of the constitution. A key characteristic of the doctrine is that it is judicially developed. The judiciary deduces certain core characteristics of the constitutional order from the text, underlying philosophy, and history, and declares these to be unamendable.

The applicability of the basic structure doctrine in Singapore has emerged as a persistent question for constitutional scholars and judges here. The Singapore Constitution does not prescribe explicit limits to amendment powers, only procedural ones. The doctrine first came up for consideration in the High Court in the 1989 case of Teo Soh Lung v Minister for Home Affairs.[2] There, the Court declined to extend the Kesavananda doctrine to the Singapore constitution on the basis that Singapore’s constitutional drafting history differed from India’s, and that accordingly, there was no historical or conceptual basis for extending such limits to Parliament’s power to amend the Singapore constitution. This was affirmed in a 1990 case of Vincent Cheng v Minister for Home Affairs and others.[3]

In more recent times, the Singapore courts have had to revisit this issue, including in the 2017 case of Ravi s/o Madasamy v Attorney-General and other matters (“Ravi s/o Madasamy”).[4] Here, the Singapore High Court was asked to consider whether recent constitutional amendments imposing stricter eligibility criteria for candidates seeking to run for President and introducing reserved elections were unconstitutional. The applicant argued that the constitutional amendments violated the constitution’s basic structure as it interferes with the right to stand for public office and more broadly equal protection guarantee under the constitution. The High Court again declined to extend the Kesavananda basic structure doctrine to the Singapore Constitution. However, unlike in Teo, it engaged critically with the proposal that the Singapore Constitution has a basic structure and discussed what that would mean for constitutional doctrine.

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Published on January 17, 2018
Author:          Filed under: Developments

Special Announcement: I-CONnect Columnists for 2018

David Landau, Florida State University College of Law

The editors of I-CONnect are pleased to announce our new slate of columnists for 2018: Jaclyn Neo, James Fowkes, Francisca Pou Giménez, and Renata Uitz. We are confident that they will provide a diverse and fascinating set of voices, representing a range of regional and substantive areas of focus, for the coming year.

We would also like to give thanks to our inaugural group of 2017 columnists — Aslı Bâli, Menaka Guruswamy, Javier Couso, and Tom Gerald Daly. We are grateful to each of these terrific scholars for agreeing to serve as columnists last year, and think you will agree that they added an immense amount to the blog.

The format of the columns will stay the same as last year. The goal is to provide ICONnect with regular contributors who have a distinctive voice and unique perspective on public law. Columns, while scholarly in accordance with the tone of the blog and about the same length as a normal blog post, are a bit more “op-ed” in nature than standard posts.

Each columnist will produce one column every two months, and therefore the blog will run a column roughly once every two weeks. The initial schedule will be as follows, with the schedule then repeating in March and every other month thereafter:

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Published on January 16, 2018
Author:          Filed under: Editorials

Call for Papers and Panels–Identity, Security, Democracy: Challenges for Public Law–ICON-S 2018 Annual Conference–Hong Kong, June 25-27, 2018

The International Society of Public Law (ICON-S) is pleased to announce that its 2018 Annual Conference will be held in Hong Kong on June 25-27, 2018, under the auspices of the University of Hong Kong’s Faculty of Law and its Centre for Comparative and Public Law – one of Asia’s foremost centres for the study of public law in all its varieties. This will be the fifth Annual Conference of ICON-S, following the four Annual Conferences (Florence 2014, New York 2015, Berlin 2016, Copenhagen 2017) which have been overwhelmingly successful, thanks to the support of our Members.

ICON-S now invites paper and panel submissions for the 2018 Annual Conference. The overarching theme of the Conference will be “Identity, Security, Democracy: Challenges for Public Law.”

Modern identity struggles and the search for constitutional and legal mechanisms that can accommodate diversity occur at many levels including the national, supra-national, local, individual, and collective; and also involve multiple dimensions: ethnic, racial, religious, gender, sexual, and cultural, to name but a few. In recent years, identity claims and security issues have taken centre stage in law and politics, prompting realignment of domestic, regional and international orders. Technological advancement has to some extent countered traditional security concerns, but has given rise to new ones as well as to issues of privacy and political control. At the same time, democracy, a widely revered political ideal for addressing differences and realising human aspirations, is facing challenges in many parts of the world. How should public law respond to these changing circumstances? Asia – with some of the most diverse cultures in the world, where domestic and regional security threats and human rights violations loom large, and where democracy is a relatively recent and at times fragile phenomenon or still under experimentation – offers a unique setting for fresh thinking on these and other closely-related themes.

The Conference will include a keynote address by The Rt Hon the Lord Neuberger of Abbotsbury, former President of the Supreme Court of the UK (2012-2017), as well as three plenary sessions featuring prominent jurists, intellectuals and judges, focused on the general themes of the Conference. A provisional program can be found here. At the heart of the Conference, however, are the concurrent sessions during the three-day conference which will be devoted to the papers and panels selected through this Call.

ICON-S particularly welcomes proposals for fully-formed panels, but also accepts individual papers dealing with any aspect of the Annual Conference’s themes. In any case, paper and panel proposals need not be limited to those themes, and may focus on any theoretical, historical, comparative, empirical, jurisprudential, ethical, behavioral, ethnographic, philosophical or practical, policy-oriented perspective related to public law, including administrative law, constitutional law, international law, criminal law, immigration and citizenship law and human rights and may address domestic, subnational, national, regional, transnational, supranational, international and global aspects of public law.

We strongly encourage the submission of fully-formed panels. Panel proposals should include at least three papers by scholars who have agreed in advance to participate. Such fully-formed panel proposals should also identify one or two discussants, who may also serve as panel chair and/or paper presenter. Concurrent panel sessions will be scheduled over two days. Each concurrent panel session will be scheduled for 90 minutes.

We invite potential participants to refer to the ICON-S Mission Statement when choosing a topic or approach for their papers or panels.

ICON-S is by no means restricted to public lawyers! We particularly welcome panel proposals that offer genuinely multi-disciplinary perspectives from various areas of law (including civil, criminal, tax, and labor law), as well as from scholars in the humanities and the social sciences (e.g. history, economics, political science, sociology) with an interest in the study of identity, security, democracy and public law. We welcome submissions from both senior and junior scholars (including advanced doctoral students) as well as interested practitioners.

All submissions must be made through the ICON-S website (here) by January 31, 2018. Successful applicants will be notified by March 1, 2018.

All participants will be responsible for their own travel and accommodation expenses.

We very much look forward to receiving your paper and panel proposals.

See you at ICON-S Hong Kong 2018!

Gráinne de Búrca (NYU) & Ran Hirschl (University of Toronto)
Co-Presidents of ICON-S

Richard Albert (Texas); Lorenzo Casini (IMT School for Advanced Studies, Lucca); Cora Chan (HKU); Albert Chen (HKU); Rosalind Dixon (University of New South Wales); Kelley Loper (HKU); Joseph Weiler (NYU); Simon Young (HKU)
Members of the ICON-S 2018 Organizing Committee

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Published on January 16, 2018
Author:          Filed under: Developments

What’s New in Public Law

Mohamed Abdelaal, Assistant Professor, Alexandria University Faculty of Law

In this weekly feature, I-CONnect publishes a curated reading list of developments in public law. “Developments” may include a selection of links to news, high court decisions, new or recent scholarly books and articles, and blog posts from around the public law blogosphere.

To submit relevant developments for our weekly feature on “What’s New in Public Law,” please email

Developments in Constitutional Courts

  1. The Constitutional Court of Republic of Moldova suspends presidential attributions on appointing ministers.
  2. The Russian Constitutional Court dismissed an appeal to allow an opposition figure to run for presidential election.
  3. Spain’s Supreme Court ruled that former Catalan Vice President must remain in jail pending an investigation on rebellion charges.
  4. The Supreme Court of India ordered a review to the ban on gay sex.
  5. The U.S. Supreme Court will hear a water dispute between Florida and Georgia.

In the News

  1. The Nigerian General Assembly approved new constitutional amendments.
  2. The South African Parliament will review rules on removing the president.
  3. In Norway, the government’s plans for oil exploration in the Arctic were held constitutional.
  4. In Iceland, a new law has been promulgated requiring equal pay for women.
  5. In Thailand, the Democrat Party will seek Constitutional Court nullification of an Article 44 order amending the political party law.
  6. UN experts condemned Saudi Arabia’s use of anti-terror laws.

New Scholarships

  1. Gerard Magliocca, The Heart of the Constitution: How the Bill of Rights became the Bill of Rights (Oxford University Press 2018) (providing a sweeping reinterpretation of the Bill of Rights)
  2. Farah Diaz-Tello, Melissa Mikesell, and Jill E. Adams, Roe’s Unfinished Promise: Decriminalizing Abortion Once and for All (2018) (discussing the constraints of misunderstanding and the restraints of criminalizing non-clinical abortion)
  3. Chris Jenks, A Matter of Policy: United States Application of the Law of Armed Conflict, 46 Southwestern Univ. L. Rev., 2017 (examining to what extent does the law of armed conflict apply to the United States military fighting in armed conflicts)
  4. John Witte Jr., Law, Religion, and Metaphor, in Günter Thomas and Heike Springhart (eds.), Risiko und Vertrauen/Risk and Trust: Festschrift für Michael Welker zum 70. Geburtstag (Leipzig: Evangeliche Verlagsanhalt, 2017) (exploring the role of metaphors in shaping our thought and language in general, and in the fields of law and religion in particular)
  5. Marcelo Thompson, The Biographical Core of Law: Privacy, Personhood, and the Bounds of Obligation, in Daniel Matthews and Scott Veitch (eds.), Law, Obligation, Community (Routledge, 2018) (querying the quintessential realm where law and human subjectivity intersect)
  6. Allan Beever, Engagement, Criticism and the Academic Lawyer, 27 New Zealand Univ. L. Rev. 79-93 (2017) (examining the way in which academic lawyers relate to the work of their colleagues)
  7. Thomas Schultz and François Ost, Shakespearean Legal Thought in International Dispute Settlement (2017) (examining the contributions of Shakespearean legal thought to our understanding of core aspects of international dispute settlement)
  8. Graham Butler, Pre-Ratification Judicial Review of International Agreements to be Concluded by the European Union, in ‘The Court of Justice of the European Union: Multidisciplinary Perspectives’, Mattias Derlén and Johan Lindholm (eds) Hart Publishing/Bloomsbury 53-77 (2018) (analysing the pre-ratification judicial review option, Article 218(11) TFEU, available to certain actors for future EU international agreements)

Call for Papers

  1. The Center for Law, Science & Innovation at Arizona State University is calling for abstracts for the 6th Annual Conference on the Governance of Emerging Technologies & Science Law, Policy and Ethics. The conference will be held May 16-18, 2018.
  2. The Journal of Corporate Finance invites proposals for special issues on the theory and practice of corporate finance.
  3. The Seattle Journal for Social Justice welcomes submissions for its symposium entitled “Police Brutality: Its Chilling Effect and Innovative Solutions” on Friday, April 6th, 2018.
  4. Babson College and The Virginia Tech Center for Business Intelligence Analytics and The Department of Business Law and Ethics, Kelley School of Business invites submissions for its annual research colloquium, “Law and Ethics of Big Data,” which will be held at Babson College in Wellesley, Massachusetts on April 27-28, 2018.
  5. A call for papers has been issued for the fourth volume of the South Asian Law Review Journal, which will focus on contemporary issues of law (National & International).
  6. The Minerva Center for the Study of the Rule of Law under Extreme Conditions at the University of Haifa (Faculty of Law and the Department of Geography and Environmental Studies), invites proposals for research activities, as outlined below, aimed at analyzing the various aspects of pre, during and post-emergency resilience.

Elsewhere online

  1. M. Wawrykiewicz, P. Kieszkowska-Knapik, M. Ejchart-Dubois and S. Gregorczyk-Abram, Poland’s government is undermining the rule of law, ConstitutionNet
  2. Giovanni Bonello, Misunderstanding the Constitution: A battery of pointless ‘principles’?, Times Malta
  3. Constitutional Rights and the Police, The Punch
  4. Christian V. Esguerra, Draft constitution ‘dangerous,’ gives Duterte temporary lawmaking power: ex-solon, ABS-CBN News
  5. Larry Davidson, It’s time the Supreme Court makes sales tax fair again, The Washington Post
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Published on January 15, 2018
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Not #LoveWins: On the Indonesian LGBT Case

–Stefanus Hendrianto, Boston College

On December 14, 2017, the Indonesian Constitutional issued a long awaited decision on a petition to outlaw extramarital and gay sex.[1] In a 5-4 decision, the Court declared that it has no authority to ban sex outside marriage, including a ban on homosexual relationships.  Some news reports have praised the decision as a victory for LGBT communities and a blow to the growing influence of religious hardliners in Indonesia.[2] But those conclusions are premature, because the Court never issued an explicit ruling to defend the constitutional rights of same-sex couples. Moreover, the Court’s decision demonstrates a continuing lack of constitutional vision in the Indonesian Constitutional Court.

The Nature of the Petition

The case originated from a petition by some activists under the banner of Love Family Alliance (Aliansi Cinta Keluarga – AILA). In a nutshell, it challenged the constitutionality of some provisions in the Criminal Code, including article 284 (criminalization of adultery), article 285 (criminalization of rape), and article 292 (criminalization of same-sex relationship with a minor). The claimants argued that they aspire to make the country more “civilized” by “strengthening family values,” while some provisions in the Criminal Code did not provide sufficient protection for those values. For example, they pointed out that article 292 imposes a five-year prison term for someone involved in a same-sex relationship with a minor, but not with an adult. The claimants asked the Court to interpret the relevant provision so as to include prohibition and criminal sanction against a same-sex relationship with an adult as well as a minor.

The claimants tried to frame their argument based on the general limitation clause for the bill of rights, Article 28J (2) of the 1945 Constitution.[3] They argued that the Criminal Code in its current form was “too liberal” because Indonesia inherited it from the Dutch, and that it silently legalized sexual relationships outside marriage and same-sex relationships. The claimants argued that there must be a stricter prohibition based on religious values.

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Published on January 11, 2018
Author:          Filed under: Developments

The Judicial Ban on Asbestos in Brazil: A Turning Point in the Relationship between International Law and Collective Fundamental Rights?

Ranieri Lima Resende, PhD. in Law Candidate, Federal University of Rio de Janeiro (Brazil); Visiting Doctoral Researcher, New York University.*

Celebrated as one of the most important news stories of 2017 by environmentalists and human rights’ activists,[1] the recent prohibition of asbestos production and commerce throughout the country, ordered by the Brazilian Supreme Court on November 29, removes Brazil from the “Black List” of global exporters of this highly dangerous mineral.[2]

Accordingly, on December 5 the biggest Brazilian asbestos company (Eternit) officially informed its shareholders and the general market that its subsidiaries would fully suspend asbestos production.[3] Another immediate consequence was felt by the U.S. chlor-alkali industry, which had previously imported from Brazil about 95% of the asbestos that it used.[4]

In this most recent Asbestos case, the Brazilian Supreme Court relied extensively on international human rights law and international environmental law to reach its conclusion. This stands in stark contrast to other recent cases, as explained below. Thus, the Asbestos case may represent a turning point in the Court’s use of international law in collective rights cases.

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Published on January 10, 2018
Author:          Filed under: Developments

What’s New in Public Law

Simon Drugda, Centre for Socio-Legal Studies, University of Oxford (UK)

In this weekly feature, I-CONnect publishes a curated reading list of developments in public law. “Developments” may include a selection of links to news, high court decisions, new or recent scholarly books and articles, and blog posts from around the public law blogosphere.

To submit relevant developments for our weekly feature on “What’s New in Public Law,” please email

Developments in Constitutional Courts

  1. The Constitutional Court of Moldova suspended the powers of the President, who kept blocking the govt’s choice of new ministers for a reshuffle. The PM or Speaker of the Parliament, will exercise office in interim (pursuant to Art. 91 of the Constitution) to carry out the appointments.
  2. The outgoing President of the Constitutional Court of Austria criticized the country’s strict legislation on asylum and security measures.
  3. The Constitutional Court of South Korea upheld a century-old law that restricts the awarding of massage licences to the visually impaired. The Court held that professional massage services should be the preserve of the blind as they have fewer job opportunities.
  4. Chief Justice of the United States John Roberts announced that the Supreme Court will be tackling sexual harassment. The initiative will focus on protecting judges, law clerks and other court employees from, as Roberts wrote in his annual report on the judiciary.
  5. The Constitutional Court of South Africa ruled that the Parliament had failed to hold President Jacob Zuma to account, and must launch proceedings that could remove him from office.

In the News

  1. The President of Uganda signed into law a bill lifting the presidential age limit (of 75 years).
  2. The Israeli legislature (Knesset) passed an amendment to a Basic Law on the status of land in the city of Jerusalem, requiring an absolute two-thirds majority vote to cede land in Jerusalem to a foreign party.
  3. The Justice Ministry of Israel drafts a legislation to force Palestinian plaintiffs from the West Bank to petition a district court on building and land disputes, instead of the High Court of Justice.
  4. A district court in Norway upheld a govt plan for more oil exploration in the Arctic, dismissing a lawsuit by environmentalists invoking the right to a healthy environment.
  5. South Africa’s ruling African National Congress (ANC) agreed to push for a constitutional change to allow the expropriation of land without compensation.
  6. Myanmar’s civilian President called in an Independence Day speech for a reform of the military-drafted Constitution and for justice for all recognized minorities under a federal system.

New Scholarship

  1. Amanda L. Tyler, Habeas Corpus in Wartime: From the Tower of London to Guantanamo Bay (2017) (presenting a comprehensive account of the legal and political history of habeas corpus in wartime in the Anglo-American legal tradition)
  2. Pranoto Iskandar, Indigenizing Constitutionalism: A Critical Reading of ‘Asian Constitutionalism’ (2017) 2 Oxford U Comparative L Forum (situating the emerging theoretical debate on a distinct model of constitutionalism in Indonesia and the surrounding countries as the most current rebellious streak against the liberal constitutionalism)
  3. Arun K. Thiruvengadam, The Constitution of India: A Contextual Analysis (2017) (providing an overview of the Indian Constitution in its socio-political context)
  4. George H. Gadbois, Jr., Supreme Court of India: The Beginnings (2017) (studying the role played by the Federal and later Supreme Court in the Indian polity between 1937-1964)
  5. Abhinav Chandrachud, Republic of Rhetoric: Free Speech and the Constitution of India (2017) (examining the right to free speech in the legal and political history of India, from the British period to the present)
  6. Uladzislau Belavusau and Aleksandra Gliszczyńska-Grabias (eds.), Law and Memory: Towards Legal Governance of History (2017) (exploring the nature and role of legal engagement into historical memory in selected national law, European and international law)
  7. Anthea Roberts, Paul B. Stephan, Pierre-Hugues Verdier and Mila Versteeg (eds.), Comparative International Law (2017) (mapping the cross-country differences in international legal norms in various fields of international law and their application and interpretation in different geographic regions)

Call for Papers and Announcements

  1. Eötvös Loránd University (ELTE), Faculty of Law invites submissions for n the occasion of the inauguration of the Central and Eastern European Regional Chapter of the International Society of Public Law (ICON-S) on the theme: “The Power of Public Law in the 21st Century.” Interested scholars are asked to submit an abstract no longer than 500 words by January 10, 2018, by filling out this form.
  2. The Széchenyi István University, Faculty of Law and Political Sciences invites submissions to a conference on “Media and Democracy Law, Politics, Pluralism and Society in Central and Eastern Europe.” The deadline for applications is January 20, 2018.
  3. The Central European University’s Legal Studies Department invites applications for two 12-month fixed-term Postdoctoral/Research Fellowships as part of its Demise of Constitutionalism Project funded by CEU’s Intellectual Themes Initiative. Applications are welcome continuously until the fellowships are awarded to suitable candidates.
  4. The Journal of the Oxford Centre for Socio-Legal Studies (JOxCSLS) invites submissions for its 2018 issue. The deadline for submission is February 18, 2018.
  5. The Stanford Program in Law and Society (SPLS) at Stanford Law School invites submissions for its Fifth Conference for Junior Researchers on “Law in Everyday Life.” The deadline for abstracts is February 5, 2018.
  6. The Italian Association of Comparative Law (AIDC) invites submissions for its Sixth Young Scholars Conference on “New Topics and Methods in Comparative Law Research,” to be held on May 25-26, 2018 at University of Bergamo. The deadline for abstracts is January 16, 2018.

Elsewhere Online

  1. David R. Cameron, After the election and still divided, Catalonia needs to speak to Madrid with one voice, Yale MacMillan Center
  2. Aleksandra Gliszczyńska–Grabias, Law and Memory, Verfassungsblog
  3. Uladzislau Belavusau, Rule of Law in Poland: Memory Politics and Belarusian Minority, Verfassungsblog
  4. Douglas McDonald-Norman, Review: Abhinav Chandrachud’s Republic of Rhetoric: Free Speech and the Constitution of India, Law and Other Things
  5. Swapnil Tripathi, The Unconstitutionality of Prohibiting Differential Pricing, Indian Constitutional Law and Philosophy
  6. Noah Feldman, Manafort’s Lawsuit Finds Trump in a Strange Spot, Bloomberg View
  7. Amrit Cheng, Ohio’s Voter Purge Goes to the Supreme Court: What You Need to Know, ACLU blog
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Published on January 8, 2018
Author:          Filed under: Developments

Book Review: Cesare Cavallini & Oreste Pollicino on Fritjof Capra & Ugo Mattei’s “The Ecology of Law”

[Editor’s Note: In this installment of I•CONnect’s Book Review Series, Cesare Cavallini & Oreste Pollicino review Fritjof Capra & Ugo Mattei’s book on The Ecology of Law (BK 2015)]

Cesare Cavallini, Full Professor, Bocconi University & Oreste Pollicino, Full Professor, Bocconi University

Why should two scholars of civil procedure and constitutional law be interested in reading about the ecology of law?

It is with this question, which is posed with tongue firmly in cheek, that we would like to start this brief review of The Ecology of Law by Fritjof Capra and Ugo Mattei. The book’s title itself embraces a challenge, although at the same time also sets out a programme–or if you will a manifesto–along with a clear acknowledgement of a problem, or perhaps the problem of our time.

A radical change in attitude is emerging within science–as the authors demonstrate with a scholarly yet highly readable account of the evolution of law throughout history along with the development of philosophical and scientific thought–which entails a shift from a mechanistic interpretation of the world towards a systemic and “ecological” worldview. The world is no longer regarded simply as a “machine”, being an aggregate of distinct and separate constitutive parts, but rather as a “network” comprising a system of inseparable relations, characterised by fluid and self-organising communities, each capable of generating various types of “common good”. However, as will be noted below, its activity is not limited solely to generation.

In fact, while the concept of “ecology” exemplifies and at the same time simplifies this new approach, the “law” on the other hand still appears to be trapped within the old paradigm under which it must be focused on mastery and control over nature.

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Published on January 3, 2018
Author:          Filed under: Reviews

Call for Papers–Central and Eastern European Regional Chapter of the International Society of Public Law (ICON-S)–Budapest, Hungary

Call for Papers
The Power of Public Law in the 21st Century
Budapest, Hungary – 20 April 2018

International Conference on 
’The Power of Public Law in the 21st Century’
On the occasion of the inauguration of the Central and Eastern European Regional Chapter of the International Society of Public Law (ICON-S)

Eötvös Loránd University (ELTE), Faculty of Law
Egyetem tér 1-3.
Budapest, Hungary

20 April 2018

Convened by
Eszter Bodnár
David Kosar
Zoltán Pozsár-Szentmiklósy
Pál Sonnevend

The methods of exercising state power are in continuous change. The institutional design and constrains of state actors and supranational entities, the efficiency of these in sustaining democratic societies is a classic subject of analysis in legal science. Current challenges related to security, conflicts between state sovereignty and self-determination, as well as the transformation of political culture are phenomena which call for institutional changes or new approaches when interpreting the sphere of action of state actors and supranational entities, taking also into consideration the requirement of protecting fundamental rights.

This Conference will convene a group of scholars to reflect on the current challenges and trends present in Public Law from the perspective of Constitutional Law, International Law, European Law, Administrative Law and Legal Theory.

Submissions are invited from scholars of all levels – from senior scholars to doctoral students (especially from the Central and Eastern European region) – on one or more of the following subjects. We invite participants to take any methodological approach they wish (doctrinal, empirical, historical and/or theoretical perspectives) with special emphasis on the comparative method.

  1. The efficiency of public law in sustaining democratic societies
  2. The changing boundaries of public law
  3. The comparative method in the present practice of public law

The Conference will be highlighted by keynote addresses of Armin von Bogdandy, Director of the Max Planck Institute for Comparative Public Law and International Law in Heidelberg, and Andrea Pin, Associate Professor of Comparative Public Law, University of Padua.

How to Participate

Interested scholars are asked to submit an abstract no longer than 500 words by 10 January 2018 by filling out this form. A Conference Selection Committee will choose abstracts and notify all scholars no later than 31 January 2018. Full drafts of papers will be due no later than 20 March 2018. Papers should be no longer than 10,000 words (footnotes included).

A selection of papers presented at the Conference will be published subject to successful blind peer-review.


There is no cost to participate at the Conference. Participants are responsible for securing their own funding for travel, lodging and other incidental expenses.


Please direct inquiries in connection with this Conference to the Organisers at


We thank the Presidency of the International Society of Public Law, the Scientific Committee of the Eötvös Loránd University and the Faculty of Law of the Eötvös Loránd University for supporting this Conference.

About the Keynote Speakers

Armin von Bogdandy

Armin von Bogdandy is director at the Max Planck Institute for Comparative Public Law and International Law in Heidelberg and Professor for Public Law at the University in Frankfurt/Main. He studied law and philosophy before obtaining a Ph.D. in Freiburg (1988) and qualifying as a professor at the FU Berlin (1996).

He has been President of the OECD Nuclear Energy Tribunal as well as a member of the German Science Council (Wissenschaftsrat) and the Scientific Committee of the European Union Agency for Fundamental Rights; he has held visiting positions at the New York University School of Law, the European University Institute, the Xiamen Academy of International Law, and the Universidad Nacional Autonóma de México, among others.

Armin von Bogdandy is the recipient of the Leibniz Prize (2014), the Premio Internacional “Hector Fix Zamudio” (2015), the “Mazo” (gavel) of the Interamerican Court of Human Rights (2015), and the prize for outstanding scientific achievements in the field of legal and economic foundations by the Berlin-Brandenburg Academy of Sciences (2008).

His research centers on the structural changes affecting public law, be they theoretical, doctrinal, or practical.

He is member of the Council of the International Society of Public Law.

Andrea Pin

Andrea Pin (JD, University of Padua; PhD, University of Turin) is Associate Professor at the University of Padua, where he has taught Comparative Public Law, Economic & Social Rights, Islamic Law, Human Rights in Comparative Perspective, and Italian Constitutional Law. A former judicial clerk to the Italian Constitutional Court, he has taught at the U.S. Universities of Emory, where he is Senior Fellow at the Center for the Study of Law and Religion, and of Notre Dame, where he was also Visiting Fellow at the Kellogg Institute for International Studies in 2014. He is author of four books, including “The Legal Treatment of Muslim Minorities in Italy” (Ashgate 2016); his scholarly articles have appeared in U.S., British, Italian, Spanish, and French journals.

About the Conveners

Eszter Bodnár

Eszter Bodnár has been an assistant professor at the Faculty of Law of University Eötvös Loránd (ELTE) in Budapest, Hungary since 2013. She is also a faculty member in the Master of Electoral Policy and Administration program of Scoula Sant’Anna, Pisa. In the last years, she has been teaching and researching in Germany, France, the United States, the Czech Republic, Portugal, Italy, and Canada. She graduated as a lawyer and worked at the Department of Constitutional Law in the Hungarian Ministry of Justice, and in the Hungarian National Election Office. She obtained her PhD degree in constitutional law at ELTE in 2013 with her thesis on the fundamental right attributes and restrictions of the right to vote that was published in Hungarian (HVG-Orac, 2014). In the year 2017/18, she is a Visiting Research Fellow at the Unviersity of Victoria, Canada. In November 2017, she was a Kathleen Fitzpatrick Visiting Fellow in Comparative Constitutional Law at the University of Melbourne. Her research interest is in comparative constitutional law, international human rights, and European constitutional law. Currently she is working on a comparative constitutional law project on open justice.

David Kosar

David Kosař (1979) is the Head of the Judicial Studies Institute at Masaryk University Faculty of Law. He was awarded a European Research Council Starting Grant to investigate “The rise of judicial self-government and repercussions for separation of powers” (2016-2021). His areas of research include various aspects of constitutional law and politics, judicial studies, transitional justice, human rights law, and constitutional theory. His latest book “Perils of Judicial Self-Government in Transitional Societies” (CUP, 2016) investigates the different forms of how judges are held to account and studies how judicial councils affect the use of mechanisms of judicial accountability. His recent publications appeared in the American Journal of Intl. Law | Intl. Journal of Const. Law | European Const. Law Review | German Law Journal | Utrecht Law Review |. He is member of the Council of the International Society of Public Law.

Zoltán Pozsár-Szentmiklósy

Zoltán Pozsár-Szentmiklósy is an assistant professor of constitutional law at the Eötvös Loránd University (ELTE), Budapest. Besides, he has been the Rector’s commissioner-general for student affairs at the same institution, since 2013. He served as the director of the ELTE Bibó István College of Advanced Studies between 2008-2012 and as an elected member of the National Election Commission of Hungary between 2010-2013. Previously he worked as a legal officer of the Hungarian Helsinki Committee, an NGO working for the protection of fundamental rights and the enforcement of the rule of law. He obtained his PhD degree in constitutional law in 2014. His research interests are comparative constitutional law, the principle of proportionality and direct democracy.

Pál Sonnevend

Pál Sonnevend is Vice-Dean for International Affairs at the ELTE Faculty of Law. He is an Associate Professor of European and International Law and the head of the International Law Department. He also has a remarkable experience in constitutional law, administrative law, energy law and international arbitration. He has been teaching EU law and international law since 1998. Previously, he advised two consecutive presidents of Hungary, His Excellency Mr. Ferenc Mádl and His Excellency Mr. László Sólyom, in constitutional matters.

About the organising institutions

The initiative to create an International Society of Public Law emerged from the Editorial Board of I·CON – the International Journal of Constitutional Law. The Society was officially launched at an  Inaugural Conference to take place in Florence, Italy, on June 26-28, 2014. The successful format of the Inaugural Conference has been replicated in the Annual meetings, held in New York (2015), Berlin (2016) and Copenhagen (2017). Such events both favored the growth of the Society – which counts over 1.000 active members –  and the establishment of regional and national chapters. ICON-S invites all interested scholars and practitioners – from both law and the social sciences – to formally become Members of the new society. The Society will hold its 2018 Annual Conference on “Identity, Security, Democracy: Challenges for Public Law” on June 25-27, 2018 in Hong Kong.

The Eötvös Loránd University (ELTE) is Hungary’s oldest, largest and most prestigious university. Tuition at the Faculty of Law of ELTE University began in 1667 so in 2017 the institution celebrates its 350th anniversary. The Faculty of Law maintains wide-ranging international relations primarily with universities in Europe and is proud to be involved in educational and research projects with similar institutions abroad. In recent years, the ELTE Law placed special emphasis on consolidating ties with universities in neighboring countries to promote intensive regional co-operation in legal education.

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Published on January 2, 2018
Author:          Filed under: Developments

Crosspost: Is the GOP Tax Law Unconstitutional?

[Editor’s Note: This piece originally appeared here in the San Francisco Chronicle on December 21, 2017.]

Stephen Gardbaum, UCLA School of Law; Member of the ICON-S Governing Council

Now that the Republican tax bill is law, is the matter settled, at least until November or, more likely, 2020? Not necessarily, because the courts may yet have a say on this question: Did the Republican party donors’ strong-arm tactics cross the line of legitimate campaign contributions into illegal bribery?

Read the rest of this entry…

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Published on January 2, 2018
Author:          Filed under: Analysis