Blog of the International Journal of Constitutional Law and

What’s New in Comparative Public Law

Mohamed Abdelaal, Alexandria University (Egypt)

In this weekly feature, I-CONnect publishes a curated reading list of developments in comparative 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 comparative public law blogosphere.

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

Developments in Constitutional Courts

  1. The Spanish Constitutional Court rules Catalonia’s independence vote unconstitutional.
  2. Egypt’s Supreme Constitutional Court strikes down part of the parliamentary elections law.
  3. The Supreme Court of Nepal has rejected amnesty for civil war crimes.
  4. The Italian Court of Cassation concluded that the Italian Constitution does not extend marriage rights to same-sex couples.
  5. In South Korea, the Constitutional Court removes ban on adultery.
  6. The US Supreme Court ruled that the retailer Abercrombie & Fitch violated anti­discrimination laws when it denied a Muslim woman a job because of her head scarf.

In the News

  1. The International Association of Constitutional Law (IACL) launches a new blog.
  2. University of Ottawa law professors Joseph Magnet and Tolga Yalkin recently held a colloquium on constitutional design for Eritrea. The proceeding brought together constitutional lawyers, area specialists, experts from related disciplines and political stakeholders for a day long discussion about how Eritrea is likely to transition from the present authoritarian regime and to consider the possibilities for post-authoritarian  governance and development of Eritrea in its regional context. The detailed colloquium report can be found here.
  3. Japan’s prime minister seeks to revise the Constitution.
  4. In Thailand, the Constitution Drafting Committee suggests that the entire Senate should be appointed not elected.
  5. In the State of Indiana, a legislation to enrich the right to farm has been defeated in the Senate.
  6. In Ferguson, residents filed a lawsuit alleging constitutional violations after recent racial unrest.
  7. By virtue of the privacy rights in the state’s constitution, recreational marijuana is now legal in Alaska.
  8. The Wisconsin Senate has voted to approve the right-to-work bill.

New Scholarship

  1. Mario Cajas, La Historia de la Corte Suprema de Justicia de Colombia, 1886-1991 (The Universidad of The Andes and Icesi University, January 2015) (analyzing the decisions of the Colombian Supreme Court, its relationship with other political institutions, and the strategic behavior of the Court and its justices)
  2. Raimondas Ibenskas, Understanding Pre-electoral Coalitions in Central and Eastern Europe, British Journal of Political Science (2015) (examining the patterns and factors of electoral alliance formation in eleven democracies in Central and Eastern Europe by focusing on joint candidate lists.)
  3. Nico Krisch, The Structure of Postnational Authority, Institut Barcelona d’Estudis Internacionals – IBEI (2015) (discussing different factors that tend to underestimate the presence of authority in global governance.)
  4. Nicholas W. Barber, Constitutionalism: Negative and Positive (2015) (explaining the concept of constitutionalism and challenging some main misunderstandings it.)
  5. Ernest A. Young, Constitutionalism Outside the Courts, Duke Law School Public Law & Legal Theory Series (2015) (discussing the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision in Cooper v. Aaron and its implications on constitutional interpretation and enforcement by extrajudicial institutions, and the notion of judicial supremacy.)
  6. Einer Elhauge, Contrived Threats v. Uncontrived Warnings: A General Solution to the Puzzles of Contractual Duress, Unconstitutional Conditions, and Blackmail (2015) (providing a solution to the puzzle of contractual duress, unconstitutional conditions, and blackmail, and explaining why the Medicaid defunding threat in Obamacare was unconstitutional.)
  7. Alba Ruibal, Movement and Counter-Movement: A History of Abortion Law Reform and the Backlash in Colombia 2006-2014 22(44)Reproductive Health Matters (2014) (examining the process of progressive implementation and reactionary backlash in light of the Colombian Constitutional Court Decision C-335/2006, which liberalized the country’s abortion law.

Calls for Papers

  1. The Yonsei Journal of International Studies invites submissions for its spring/summer 2015 issue.
  2. Koç University Law School, Boston College Law School and the International Society of Public Law invite submissions for a full-day workshop on unamendable constitutional provisions, to be held on the campus of Koç University Law School in Istanbul on Tuesday, June 9, 2015.
  3. The Irish Journal of European Law welcomes submissions for its 2015 volume.
  4. The AALS Sections on Comparative Law and on Defamation and Privacy is now accepting proposals for the AALS Annual Meeting: Perspectives on Privacy Law.
  5. The 4th Asia Pro Bono Conference and Legal Ethics Forum Organizing Committee announces a call for papers for its annual conference to be held at Mandalay University in Mandalay, Myanmar on 3-6 Sep. 2015.
  6. The Natural Resources Journal (NRJ) seeks proposals for academic articles on law and policy issues surrounding the National Park Service.

Elsewhere on Blogs

  1. Arit John, Does the Supreme Court Care That Americans Support Gay Marriage?, Bloomberg
  2. Lyle Denniston, Constitution Check: Will the government’s global wiretap program ever be subject to challenge?, Constitution Daily Blog
  3. Ashby Jones, Gun-Control backers test new approach, WSJ Blog
  4. Lisa Griffin, Online Dispute Resolution Worldwide, ComparativeLawProfBlog
  5. Arun K. Thiruvengadam, Secularism and the Constitution of India: controversy under the Modi administration, ConstitutionNet
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Published on March 2, 2015
Author:          Filed under: Developments

Book Review: “Process and Procedure in EU Administration”

Luca de Lucia, University of Salerno, reviewing Carol Harlow & Richard Rawlings, Process and Procedure in EU Administration (Hart Publishing, December 2014, 352pp)

This book by Carol Harlow and Richard Rawlings brings an important enrichment to the literature on European public law. Administrative procedure is at the centre of the analysis and is defined as ‘a course of action, or steps in implementing a policy, or part of an administrative process’. In particular the book aims to ‘combine a general discussion of the role and contribution of administrative procedure with a carefully selected set of case studies to cast light on the way in which procedural rules develop and how they are used by administrators, economic actors and to a limited extent by civil society’. The book is divided into 13 chapters.

Six chapters are dedicated to general topics: the transformation of the institutional components of European governance: the Member States, the Commission, the network of committees and agencies (Chap. 1); tenets, values and objectives of EU administrations, with special reference to the consequences of the new public management, soft governance and to better and smart regulation (Chap. 2); the proactive role of the EU courts and the European Ombudsman in the construction of the administrative procedure (Chap .3); the normative powers and the executive acts of the Commission in particular with regard to the innovations of the Lisbon Treaty and the role that civil society organisations can play in the executive law-making (Chap. 4); the complex and contradictory battle for openness and transparency in EU administration (Chap.5); the problems and innovations in the infringement procedure (Chap. 7).

The remaining six chapters tackle sectorial themes: the complex path of the law on public procurement (Chap. 6); the modernization of competition policy (Chap. 8); the evolution and key issues in cohesion policy (Chap. 9); the Europol case (Chap. 10); the policies on the regulation of financial markets up until the Single Supervisory Mechanism (Chap. 10); the EU administrative procedure in relation to international law, with reference to the Aarhus Convention and anti-terrorism sanctions (Chap. 12). In chapter 13 the authors bring together the various threads of the discussion.

The book is full of information and interesting considerations that, through a functionalist approach, reveal the contradictions, weaknesses and the potential of the European administrative procedure. Many of the views expressed can be widely shared. The subjects tackled are many, as are the issues that arise. A couple of the general themes that recur in the book will be discussed briefly here.

Read the rest of this entry…

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Published on February 27, 2015
Author:          Filed under: Reviews

Video Now Available for Panel on “The War on Japan’s Pacifist Constitution”

Richard Albert, Boston College Law School

Last semester here at Boston College, we convened a panel discussion on “The War on Japan’s Pacifist Constitution. The video for this program is now available here.

The panel featured Tom Ginsburg (Chicago), Tokujin Matsudaira (Kanagawa) and Franziska Seraphim (Boston College).

Tom Ginsburg has written about the Japanese Constitution in several works, notably in The Endurance of National Constitutions. Tokujin Matsudaira has critiqued the incumbent Abe government’s erosion of the Constitution’s Pacifism Clause. And Franziska Seraphim has written an important book on War Memory and Social Politics in Japan. I served as moderator for the event, and drew from my recent paper on Amending Constitutional Amendment Rules to discuss the recent efforts to amend the formal amendment rules in the Japanese Constitution.

The panel discussion was video recorded and is now available for viewing here. (The first speaker begins at 6:15.) The event was hosted by the Clough Center for the Study of Constitutional Democracy.


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Published on February 25, 2015
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What’s New in Comparative Public Law

Rohan Alva, Jindal Global Law School

In this weekly feature, I-CONnect publishes a curated reading list of developments in comparative 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 comparative public law blogosphere.

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

Developments in Constitutional Courts

  1. The Colombian Constitutional Court mandated that within a thirty day time period, the Colombian Health Ministry must frame ‘guidelines’, which clarify the circumstances in which euthanasia is permissible.
  2. The Constitutional Court of Russia held that legislative provisions, which do not stipulate a time frame within which prosecutorial investigations into the activities of non-governmental organizations should be conducted, constitute as a constitutional violation.
  3. The High Court of Delhi has asked the central government of India to justify its refusal to renew the passport of Prashant Bhushan, a lawyer and activist, for a ten year term; a refusal which has been criticized for being an ‘arbitrary’ decision.
  4. The Canadian Supreme Court invalidated portions of the ‘Proceeds of Crime (Money Laundering) and Terrorist Financing Act’ so far as it required attorneys to inform the government of ‘suspicious financial activity involving their clients.’ This responsibility, the Court found, could not be properly reconciled with the professional obligation of the attorney to protect the interest of their clients.
  5. The Supreme Court of Florida, U.S.A., halted the execution of Jerry Correll over doubts as to propriety of the method in which the lethal injection is administered.

In the News

  1. The Assistance to and Protection of Victims of Crime and Witnesses Bill was recently passed in the Sri Lankan Parliament. The bill aims to extend robust protection to witnesses by safeguarding their privacy interests and imposing strong criminal sanctions on persons engaging in witness intimidation.
  2. In Virginia, U.S.A., a piece of legislation, which extends to mothers the ‘right to breastfeed in public’, was passed successfully in the Senate and the House of Delegates. The bill, which has been reserved for gubernatorial assent, is expected to come into force from July, 2015.
  3. Zeid Raad Al Hussein, the United Nations Commissioner for Human Rights has sought the release of ‘activists’ imprisoned in Syria, some of whom have been imprisoned for years without being afforded an opportunity of a fair hearing.
  4. The Thai Parliament passed a law, which prohibits ‘commercial surrogacy’. Under the new legislation, strict conditions have been put into place before a couple can resort to surrogacy, and commercial advertisements on surrogacy are disallowed.
  5. The Italian Prime Minister’s proposals to ‘reform’ the ‘labour market’ received the support of the Italian cabinet. The proposals, which aim to regulate the workforce, in part, eases the ability of employers to dismiss workers without being obligated to re-employ in case the dismissal is found to be legally infirm.

New Scholarship

  1. Robert E. Mutch, Buying the Vote: A History of Campaign Finance Reform (Oxford University Press, 2014) (tracing the development of campaign finance reform in the U.S.A., and evaluating the jurisprudence of the U.S. Supreme Court on this point and its consequences for democratic equality)
  2. Sumner B. Twiss, Mariah Gh. Simion, Rodney L. Petersen (editors), Religion and Public Policy: Human Rights, Conflict, and Ethics (Cambridge University Press, 2015) (a volume in which the different authors, from multiple perspectives, analyze the ideal of creating a society respectful of human rights as well as of religion)
  3. Christoph Moellers, The Three Branches: A Comparative Model of Separation of Powers (Oxford University Press, 2015, forthcoming) (advancing a liberal defense of the separation of powers, and presenting, through a comparative exercise, a ‘jurisdictionally neutral model’ for the division of powers amongst the different branches of the state)
  4. Michal Bobek & David Kosař, Global Solutions, Local Damages: A Critical Study in Judicial Councils in Central and Eastern Europe, 15 German Law Journal 1257 (2014) (positing that the adopition of the Judicial Council model in Central and Eastern Europe nations for the administration of courts has been unsuccessful, and proposing that for countries in transition incrimental reforms of courts would be well suited)
  5. Audrey Macklin and Rainer Bauböck (editors), The Return of Banishment: Do the New Denationalisation Policies Weaken Citizenship? EUI Working Paper RSCAS 2015/14 (a collection of essays in which the authors analyse the ramifications of nation’s suspending citizenship entitlements of individuals suspected of acts of terror)

Elsewhere on the Web

  1. Venkatesan­, Sonu Sardar v State of Chattisgarh, Law and Other Things
  2. Oliver Windridge, A Watershed Case for African Human Rights: Mtikila and others v. Tanzania, Oxford Human Rights Hub
  3. Editorial, Loopholes in political funds law, The Japan Times
  4. Suhrith Parthasarthy, Secularism and the Freedom of Religion Reconsidered – Old Wine in New Bottles?-I, Indian Constitutional Law and Philosophy
  5. Christen Giannaros, Why Collection of Arrestee DNA Violates the Fourth Amendment, Jurist

Call for Papers

  1. Koç University Law School, Boston College Law School and the International Society of Public Law invite submissions for a full-day workshop on unamendable constitutional provisions, to be held on the campus of Koç University Law School in Istanbul on Tuesday, June 9, 2015.
  2. The American University Journal of Gender, Social Policy & the Law welcome submissions for their forthcoming issue. For being considered for publication, authors must submit their papers by the 6th of March, 2015.
  3. Papers are invited for the first issue of the Journal of Aging, Longevity, & the Law, which will focus on the topic of ‘adult guardianship.’ All papers must be submitted by the 10th of March, 2015.
  4. Entries are invited for a conference on ‘The Journey of Aging- the Law and Beyond’ to be held on the 12th and 13th of November, 2015 in Vancouver, Canada. Abstracts of papers must be submitted by the 1st of May, 2015.
  5. A call for papers has been issued by The International Journal of Human Rights for a special issue on the ‘Responsibility to Protect’. Articles, which should not exceed eight thousand words, are to be sent in by the 30th of June, 2015.
  6. The Canadian Women’s Studies Journal invites articles for its ‘Special Issue on Women’s Human Rights’. All articles must be submitted along with an abstract by the 15th of July, 2015.
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Published on February 23, 2015
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Is the United States Constitution Too Difficult to Amend?

Special Series: Perspectives from Undergraduate Law Students
J.D. Student Contribution

[Editor’s note: The students in my advanced seminar on constitutional amendment wrote excellent papers in their take-home examination for the course. They were given a choice of two questions to answer: (1) “Is the United States Constitution Too Difficult to Amend?”; or (2) “Assume the year is 1787. You are an advisor to a delegate to the Constitutional Convention in Philadelphia. What advice would you give about how to design Article V?” Below, I reproduce one of my student’s answers in response to to Question #1, with his permission. –Richard Albert]

–William Hendel, 2L at Boston College Law School

Much as been made of the obduracy of the Article V Amendment process.  It is, unquestionably, among the most onerous amendment processes in the world (Vile, Constitutional Revision 396).  But it is not the obstacle to progress that some have asserted.  To borrow from Shakespeare, the fault is not in our process but in ourselves, that we are dissatisfied.  Constitutions speak to timeless questions of natural rights, the people’s relationship to  their government, and the balance of powers among political actors.  With due respect to Mr. Jefferson, the answers to these questions probably do not change every twenty years, or even every two hundred years (Sullivan 694).  Of course, they may change. And should they, the people need an avenue to effect their change of mind. Additionally, errors in the document may need correcting or ministerial duties may need tending.  I submit that Article V has served all of these functions – from outlawing slavery to putting term limits on the President.  The process has not failed us. We have failed the process. We have been unfaithful, and allowed another, faster, less democratic, less open avenue determine our constitutional destiny.  We have made Article V an also-ran where it should have been uncontested.  Thereby, we have made a difficult process unpalatable, and in many ways, irrelevant.

Constitutions should be very difficult to amend.  As Marshall says in McCulloch v. Maryland, the Constitution is supposed to endure for ages to come (Sullivan 695).   Timeless documents should not need to be updated with great frequency. Nor is it prudent to do so. As Sullivan observes, “relatively infrequent amendment preserves public confidence in the stability of the basic constitutional structure” (Sullivan 695). Reciprocally, frequent amendment will invariably bring the derisive political conflicts of the day into the foundational document.  This will demote the Constitution to little more than a statute, and it will blur the line between politics and the rule of law.  Sullivan points to the balanced budget amendment as an example of an effort to enshrine “a particular and highly contestable macroeconomic policy – no deficit spending – in the Constitution” (Sullivan 697).  The Constitution is a statement of first principles and the blueprint for government structure.  To treat the Constitution as anything less would engender resentment among large portions of the populace and irreparably damage the legitimacy of the document as a locus of authority.

Still another reason for an obdurate Article V is coherence and the protection of first principles that are, or at least should be, inviolable.

Read the rest of this entry…

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Published on February 20, 2015
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Mercy and Judicial Review in the Commonwealth

Adam Perry, Lecturer in Law, Queen Mary University of London

Judges in Commonwealth jurisdictions are increasingly willing to review the executive’s decisions to grant or refuse mercy (ie, decisions to grant or refuse a request for a pardon or remission of a sentence for a criminal offence). Here I want to sketch the developments and mention a few interesting differences and commonalities. I shall focus on the Caribbean States and India, where most of the action has been.

First, a capsule history: English monarchs since medieval times have had a prerogative power of mercy. That power was never abolished, and the Queen still wields it today, on the advice of her ministers. Countries that Britain once ruled – India, Jamaica, Barbados, etc. – tended to include, or have included for them, a power of mercy in their governing arrangements. For example, article 72 of the Indian Constitution gives the President the power to show mercy for offences against the Union and in death penalty cases.

In the past, judges in Commonwealth jurisdictions tended to be unwilling to review mercy decisions. This was due, in part, to a general unwillingness to review exercises of prerogative powers. But I think it is fair to say that the nature of mercy decisions also gave judges pause.

Read the rest of this entry…

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Published on February 18, 2015
Author:          Filed under: Analysis

What’s New in Comparative Public Law

Patrick Yingling, Reed Smith LLP

In this weekly feature, I-CONnect publishes a curated reading list of developments in comparative 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 comparative public law blogosphere.

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

Developments in Constitutional Courts

  1. Italy’s Court of Cassation ruled that same-sex couples are not entitled to marriage rights under the country’s constitution.
  2. Russia’s Supreme Court upheld the ban on Muslim headgear in schools introduced last fall by authorities in the Republic of Mordovia.
  3. A judge for the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Texas ruled that the federal ban on interstate handgun sales by federal firearm dealers is unconstitutional.
  4. A judge for the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Alabama ordered an Alabama state probate court judge to issue same-sex marriage licenses.
  5. Lawyers for Abigail Fisher filed a new petition for certiorari to the U.S. Supreme Court, challenging, for a second time, the University of Texas affirmative action program.

In the News

  1. Myanmar lawmakers stated that the country’s president has approved a law allowing a referendum on amendments to its constitution later this year.
  2. Greece’s new government, led by the left-wing Syriza party, vowed to extend legal status to same-sex couples.
  3. Human Rights Watch urged Thailand’s National Legislative Assembly to reject a proposed amendment to the Military Court Act that would allow the government to detain civilians for up to 84 days without charging them with a crime.
  4. The Pennsylvania General Assembly voted to amend the state’s constitution to change the mandatory retirement age for state court judges from 70 to 75.
  5. Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf declared a moratorium on the death penalty, which will remain in effect until he receives and reviews a report from the Pennsylvania Task Force and Advisory Committee on Capital Punishment.

New Scholarship

  1. Michel Rosenfeld, A Comparativist Critique of U.S. Judicial Review of Fundamental Rights Cases: Exceptionalisms, Paradoxes and Contradictions, Rights-Based Constitutional Review – Constitutional Courts In A Changing Landscape (Edward Elgar Publishing, Forthcoming 2015) (placing the longstanding controversy concerning the U.S. Supreme Court adjudication of constitutional issues, and in particular those pertaining to fundamental rights, in comparative context)
  2. Malcolm M. Feeley, The Unconvincing Case Against Private Prisons, 89 Indiana Law Journal 1401 (2014) (maintaining that the state monopoly theory erroneously asserts that privatization is inconsistent with the modern state and concluding with a call for policymakers and judges to imbue their future privatization decisions with local knowledge and time-honored pragmatism)
  3. Lawrence B. Solum, The Fixation Thesis: The Role of Historical Fact in Original Meaning, Working Paper (2015) (providing a precise formulation of the fixation thesis, making the affirmative case for fixation, and answering potential objections)
  4. Alma Cohen, Alon Klement & Zvika Neeman, Judicial Decision Making: A Dynamic Reputation Approach, Journal of Legal Studies (Forthcoming 2015) (developing a theoretical model suggesting that judges who are concerned about their reputation tend to “decide against their prior” as they approach elections—that is, judges who imposed a large number of severe sentences in the past, and are thus perceived to be strict, tend to impose less severe sentences prior to elections, and judges who imposed a large number of light sentences in the past, and are perceived to be lenient, tend to impose more severe sentences prior to elections)
  5. Shai Dothan, The Optimal Use of Comparative Law, Denver Journal of International Law and Policy, Vol. 43, No. 1 (2014) (arguing that the Condorcet Jury Theorem depends on decisions being made independently and suggesting that application of the Emerging Consensus doctrine in the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR), wherein the ECHR finds states in violation of the European Convention if the states do not protect rights protected by the majority of European states, would allow for the benefits of the Jury Theorem to be fully realized)

Elsewhere Online

  1. Shinichi Kitaoka, Japan: Insights into the World – Devise viable path to revise Constitution, ConstitutionNet
  2. Michael Keldsen, Denmark: The case against a constitution – The View from Copenhagen, ConstitutionNet
  3. Mohammad Shahnewaz, How biometric identification can help the judicial management system, AfricLaw
  4. Lissa Griffin, Hearsay: The ECHR, the UK Supreme Court, and the US Supreme Court, Comparative Law Prof Blog
  5. Chris Jenks, UN Report on the Central African Republic: Is the Glass Reflecting the International Community’s Efforts Half-Empty or Half-Full?, JURIST

Calls for Papers

  1. ICON-S has issued the call for papers and panels for its 2015 Conference, scheduled for July 1-3, 2015, in New York City.
  2. The AALS Sections on Comparative Law, and on Defamation and Privacy has issued a call for papers and proposals for a joint program at the 2016 Annual Meeting, held on January 6-9, 2016.
  3. The Transnational Law & Social Justice Project has issued a call for papers for its event to be hosted at the London School of Economics on June 26-27, 2015 on the methodological challenges raised by the study of transnational law.
  4. The University of East Anglia has issued a call for abstracts for the 2015 British Association of Comparative Law Postgraduate Workshop on Comparative Law to be held on April 28-29, 2015.
  5. Editors of Oriente Moderno have issued a call for papers for a special issue on the topic of Islamic Law and Minorities: Past and Present.
  6. The Fordham University School of Law Louis Stein Center for Law and Ethics has issued a call for papers for its 2016 International Legal Ethics Conference VII – The Ethics & Regulation of Lawyers Worldwide: Comparative and Interdisciplinary Perspectives to be held on July 14-16, 2016.

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Published on February 16, 2015
Author:          Filed under: Developments

ICON-S 2015 Conference in New York City, July 1-3, 2015—Call for Papers & Panels—Public Law in an Uncertain World

I-CONnect is pleased to announce the Call for Papers & Panels below for the 2015 Conference of ICON-S: the International Society of Public Law.

ICON-S, a new international learned society now entering its second year, is guided by a Pro Term Executive Committee featuring many of the world’s leading scholars in the field of public law.

This edition of the ICON-S Conference will be held in New York City, on July 1-3, 2015, at the New York University School of Law. The conference will feature plenary and concurrent panels. Scholars–both senior and junior, including graduate students, as well as practitioners–are invited to submit papers and/or fully-formed panels for the conference.

Further details follow below.


International Society of Public Law (ICON·S)

2015 Conference

New York City, July 1-3

Call for Panels and Papers

“Public Law in an Uncertain World”

ICON-S invites submissions for papers and fully-formed panels for its 2015 Conference on “Public Law in an Uncertain World”.

The Conference will take place in New York City, on July 1-3, 2015, at the New York University School of Law.

The Conference will feature a keynote address as well as three plenary sessions on the Conference theme. A provisional program can be found here. The heart of the Conference, however, will be the two days devoted to the papers and panels selected through this Call.

ICON-S welcomes both individual papers as well as proposals for fully-formed panels. Panel proposals should include at least 3 papers by scholars who have agreed in advance to participate and should identify one or two discussants, who may also be paper presenters. Concurrent panel sessions will be scheduled over two days. Each concurrent panel session will last 1 hour and 30 minutes.

The plenary sessions are not intended to limit the subject-matter scope of individual paper submissions and fully-formed panel proposals. Paper and panel proposals may focus on any theoretical, historical, comparative, empirical, doctrinal, philosophical or practical perspective related broadly to public law, including administrative law, constitutional law, criminal law, or international law in all of their possible domestic, transnational, supranational, international and global variants related to the 2015 Conference theme. The purpose of this conference is to explore and evaluate the function and limits of public law in our uncertain world in relation to war and peace, human rights, religion, state-building, constitution-making, formal and informal institutional change, revolutionary movements, national security as well as but not limited to the economy, the environment and the challenge of new technologies.

We invite potential participants to refer to the ICON-S Mission Statement when choosing a topic.

ICON-S is by no means restricted to public lawyers! We particularly welcome panel proposals that offer a genuine multi-disciplinary perspective from various areas of law (including civil, commercial, criminal, tax, and labor law), as well as from scholars from the humanities and the social sciences with an interest in the study of public law and (un)certainty.

We welcome submissions from both senior and junior scholars (including advanced Ph.D. students) as well as practitioners.

All submissions must be made on the ICON-S website ( by April 10, 2015. Successful applicants will be notified by May 1, 2015.

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

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Published on February 15, 2015
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Judging the Bankers (or Not): The Rise of the ECB and the Transformation of EU Constitutionalism

Nicole Scicluna, Department of Political Science and International Studies (POLSIS), University of Birmingham

The European Central Bank (ECB) embodies the politicised technocracy that characterises EU governance. It was pushed to centre stage by the euro crisis and by national governments’ unwillingness or inability to come up with timely and credible solutions. Despite protestations by former chief, Jean-Claude Trichet, that the Bank’s monetary interventions could not and would not replace decisive government action, that is largely what happened. Fiscal policy coordination among euro area states is still a work in progress, while the ECB’s ascent as a political actor continued, and even accelerated, under current president, Mario Draghi. Hence, it was Draghi’s promise in July 2012 to do ‘whatever it takes‘ to save the euro that was the turning point in the crisis, pulling the currency back from the brink.

However, the ECB’s rise is neither uncontested nor uncontroversial. As its de jure mandate has not expanded alongside its de facto role, the Bank operates under an ever-threatening cloud of semi-legality. The sympathetic opinion of European Court of Justice (ECJ) Advocate General, Pedro Cruz Villalon, on the Bank’s euro area bond buying programme must have been received then as a very welcome ray of light.

The opinion was released on 14 January, a fortuitous bit of timing that boosted the Bank’s legitimacy in the lead up to its long-awaited announcement of eurozone quantitative easing (QE) on 22 January. Taken together with Syriza’s victory in the Greek elections a few days later, the Advocate General’s opinion may indicate a shift away from the austerity focus that has so far dominated the euro crisis response. However, this is not necessarily cause for optimism – on the contrary, it is likely to strengthen centrifugal tendencies within the EU.

Read the rest of this entry…

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Published on February 13, 2015
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A Spectre Resurfaces: Chinese National Security Legislation and Hong Kong

Alvin Y.H. Cheung, Visiting Scholar, U.S.-Asia Law Institute, NYU School of Law

National security legislation has been a “third rail” of Hong Kong politics since 500,000 people marched in protest against the National Security (Legislative Provisions) Bill on July 1, 2003 – ultimately forcing then-Chief Executive Tung Chee-hwa to resign.  Nonetheless, in the wake of the Umbrella Movement pro-democracy protests of 2014, the Hong Kong Government and its supporters are again raising the spectre of national security legislation.  In his Policy Address, Chief Executive C.Y. Leung – ignoring the adage to pick on someone his own size – singled out the Hong Kong University Students’ Union magazine Undergrad for promoting secessionist sentiments and urged politicians to “advise them against putting forward such fallacies.”  On January 14, 2015, Ng Leung-sing, a pro-Beijing legislator and Vice-Chair of the Legislative Council’s Panel on Security, stated that he believed that Chinese State Security was involved in the investigation of the protests (The Stand News – Chinese only).  Within days, National People’s Congress deputy Stanley Ng asserted that the Mainland’s state security legislation should be applied to Hong Kong, in the absence of local national security legislation. Read the rest of this entry…

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Published on February 12, 2015
Author:          Filed under: Developments