Blog of the International Journal of Constitutional Law and

Call for Papers–Workshop on Comparative Constitutional Amendment

Richard Albert, Boston College Law School

Boston College Law School and the International Association of Constitutional Law’s Research Group on Constitution-Making and Constitutional Change invite submissions for a full-day workshop on comparative constitutional amendment, to be held on the campus of Boston College Law School on Friday, May 15, 2015. The event organizers will endeavor to make arrangements to publish the papers, including response papers, in either an edited collection or in a special issue of a law journal.

This workshop is convened by Xenophon Contiades (University of Peloponnese) and Richard Albert (Boston College).

Purpose of Workshop

The purpose of this workshop is to convene a group of scholars whose primary field of research is comparative constitutional amendment for a high-level discussion on enduring and emerging questions in the field. This full-day workshop will offer participants a balanced combination of rigorous scholarly discussion and more relaxed social interaction.

Structure of Workshop

This full-day workshop will feature seven (7) papers selected through this Call for Papers, with two (2) discussants assigned to each paper, for a total of twenty-one (21) participants. The day will begin at 9:00am with welcome remarks over a continental breakfast. From 9:30am to 5:30pm, each of the seven (7) papers will be allocated one hour of time for group discussion. The two assigned discussants will critique the paper for 15 minutes each, followed by a 30 minute group discussion. The paper author will not present her/his paper but will have the opportunity to respond to questions. Lunch will be served from 12:30pm to 1:30pm. Dinner is scheduled for 6:00pm. Boston College Law School will sponsor all meals.


Submissions are invited from scholars of all ranks, including doctoral students, whose primary field of research is comparative constitutional amendment, both formal and informal. Special consideration may be given to scholars affiliated with the International Association of Constitutional Law’s Research Group on Constitution-Making and Constitutional Change.

Submission Instructions

Interested scholars should email no more than one (1) paper by January 15, 2015 to the following address: There is neither a minimum nor a maximum length for papers but papers may not have been published by the time of the workshop. Preference will be given to papers that are still in development. Scholars should identify their submission with the following subject line: “IACL—Paper Submission—Comparative Constitutional Amendment Workshop.”

Scholars interested in serving as discussants may submit a brief statement of interest—no more than one paragraph is sufficient—along with a curriculum vitae to the same address by the same date. Prospective discussants should identify their submission with the following subject line: “IACL—Discussant—Comparative Constitutional Amendment Workshop.”

Notification and Participation Requirements

Successful applicants will be selected by a Workshop Selection Committee and notified no later than February 16, 2015.


There is no cost to participate in the workshop. Successful applicants are responsible for securing their own funding for travel, lodging and other incidental expenses. Boston College Law School will be pleased to sponsor all meals for participants.


Please direct inquiries in connection with this workshop to Professor Richard Albert (Boston College) by email at or telephone at 617-552-3930.

Workshop Selection Committee

Xenophon Contiades (Peloponnese)
Alkmene Fotiadou (Centre for European Constitutional Law)
Richard Albert (Boston College)

About Boston College Law School

Founded in 1929, Boston College Law School offers broad course offerings and small class sizes that permit considerable personal interaction with faculty. The international and comparative law curriculum provides opportunities for in-class instruction, innovative and flexible study-abroad programs, and meaningful training in the field. Boston College Law School understands that globalization magnifies the scope and complexity of law and legal practice. The curriculum trains students for the needs of today, while giving them skills and perspectives that anticipate the needs of tomorrow. The program prepares leaders to pursue social justice not just nationally, but internationally as well. For more, please visit:

About the IACL

The overriding objective of the International Association of Constitutional Law (IACL) is to provide a forum in which constitutionalists from all parts of the world can begin to understand each other’s systems, explain and reflect on their own, and engage in fruitful comparison, for a variety of purposes. The IACL Research Group for the study of constitution-making and constitutional change assembles constitutional scholars interested in the wide variety of issues stemming from constitutional design making throughout the world. The group aims to explore the procedures used for the enactment of new constitutions and for formal constitutional amendment, as well as the substantive content of constitutional change, and to address issues of constitutional design. For more, please visit:

About the Convenors

Xenophon Contiades is Professor of Public Law, Dean of the School for Social and Political Sciences of the University of Peloponnese and Managing Director of the Centre for European Constitutional Law – Themistokles and Dimitris Tsatsos Foundation. He is also the Convenor of the IACL Research Group on Constitution-Making and Constitutional Change and a member of the Scientific Council of the Dimitris Tsatsos Institute for European Constitutional Sciences (Hagen-Germany). His recent publications include: Constitutions in the Global Financial Crisis: A Comparative Analysis (Ashgate, 2013) and Engineering Constitutional Change: A Comparative Perspective on Europe, Canada and the USA (Routledge, 2012).

Richard Albert is a constitutional law professor at Boston College Law School, where he received the 2013 and 2014 Anthony P. Farley Award for excellence in teaching. His research focuses on comparative constitutional amendment. He is an elected member of the Executive Committee of the American Society of Comparative Law, an elected member of the International Academy of Comparative Law, a member of the Governing Council of the International Society of Public Law, a member of the Scientific Advisory Board of the International Journal of Constitutional Law, a founding editor of I-CONnect, and a former law clerk to the Chief Justice of Canada. He holds degrees from Yale, Oxford and Harvard.

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Published on November 28, 2014
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Is a Federal Britain Now Inevitable?

–Stephen Tierney, Professor of Constitutional Theory in the School of Law, University of Edinburgh and Director of the Edinburgh Centre for Constitutional Law; ESRC Senior Research Fellow, ESRC Centre on Constitutional Change.

The Smith Commission Report issued today promises a restructuring of the United Kingdom which may prove to be more significant than the devolution settlement of 1997-98 itself; the acquisition of extensive tax and welfare powers would make Scotland one of the most autonomous regions in western Europe.

Notably the UK’s economic and fiscal coherence has hitherto been a key factor in allowing the asymmetrical and ad hoc nature of devolution to embed itself without any great disruption to the constitutional structures of the central state. With the dismantling of this system it seems that a tipping point might well be reached for our lop-sided and messy system of territorial government. The Smith Commission proposals, if implemented, will have knock-on consequences for several fundamental features of the UK constitution: parliamentary supremacy, the idea of the House of Commons as a national chamber for Britain, possibly the nature and composition of the House of Lords, and the relative freedom of the UK Government in its dealings with the devolved executives. It is perhaps ironic therefore, but I believe also inevitable, that a process which was designed studiously to avoid the federal question will now bring federalism to the table as possibly the only medium term solution to the deep imbalances which will come with further, radical powers for the Scottish Parliament.

How Does Smith Raise the Federal Question?

Federalism has rarely been seen as an attractive option by the British political class, and its feasibility as a constitutional project for Britain is certainly not beyond question. But some kind of federal solution will surely be needed to deal with two related issues: the extent to which Scotland’s representation within the House of Commons, so far only marginally affected by devolution (reduced from 72 to 59 by way of the Scotland Act 1998 as amended), will appear ever more anomalous as the Scottish Parliament’s powers expand; and the very real risk that as Scotland becomes ever more detached from Westminster, the Union will become largely irrelevant to many Scots. The latter is far more dangerous since it could well mean that Scottish independence is in the longer term now more rather than less likely. If this is true the unionist parties, which make up the majority of the Smith ‘Commission’ (which was in reality an inter-party bargaining group), risk seizing defeat from the jaws of referendum victory.

Read the rest of this entry…

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Published on November 27, 2014
Author:          Filed under: Developments

Call for Nominations: Richard M. Buxbaum Prize for Teaching in Comparative Law

Richard Albert, Boston College Law School

Call for Nominations
Richard M. Buxbaum Prize for Teaching in Comparative Law

The Younger Comparativists Committee (YCC) of the American Society of Comparative Law (ASCL) invites nominations, including self-nominations, for the first annual Richard M. Buxbaum Prize for Teaching in Comparative Law.

The YCC created the Buxbaum Prize in the summer of 2014 in honor of Professor Richard M. Buxbaum, the 2014 recipient of the ASCL Lifetime Achievement Award. Professor Buxbaum is the Jackson H. Ralston Professor of International Law (emeritus) at the University of California, Berkeley.

The Buxbaum Prize for Teaching in Comparative Law is awarded independently by the YCC in recognition of teaching excellence in any subject of comparative public or private law by an untenured scholar in a tenure-track position at an ASCL Member Institution.

The Buxbaum Prize will be awarded at the Fourth Annual YCC Global Conference, scheduled this year for April 16-17, 2015, at Florida State University College of Law in Tallahassee, Florida.


Nominations will be accepted by tenured professors currently teaching at an ASCL Member Institution. Self-nominations by untenured professors will also be accepted. Nominations should be emailed by 12:00pm EST on January 19, 2015, to

Nominations should include the nominee’s name, institutional affiliation, contact information, field of scholarly interest in comparative law, and relevant course syllabi. Nominations should also include a statement attesting to the nominee’s teaching excellence. Nominations may also include teaching evaluations.

Questions may be directed to Ioanna Tourkochoriti, YCC Director of Advisory Groups, at

About the YCC

The YCC serves as a forum for younger comparative law scholars with ten years or fewer of faculty experience, creates opportunities for younger comparativists to develop and share their research, and facilitates and promotes the scholarly exchange of ideas and research in all areas of comparative law. The YCC also hosts an annual global conference in comparative law and advises the ASCL in its activities related to younger comparativists. More information on the YCC and the ASCL is available at

YCC Board

Richard Albert (Boston College) (Chair)
Virginia Harper Ho (Kansas)
Wulf Kaal (St. Thomas—Minneapolis)
Sudha Setty (Western New England)
Ozan Varol (Lewis & Clark) (Vice Chair)

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Published on November 26, 2014
Author:          Filed under: Developments

Video Interview: Courts and Constitution-Making Featuring Will Partlett

Richard Albert, Boston College Law School

In this installment of our new video interview series at I-CONnect, I interview Will Partlett on the role of courts in constitution-making.

In the interview, we discuss constitution-making in general, his recent work on constitution-making in Russia and post-communist countries, as well as the relationship between political culture and constitutional structure. We also explore how to conceptualize a democratically legitimate role for courts in the process of constitution-making.

Will Partlett is an Associate Professor at the Faculty of Law at the Chinese University of Hong Kong. He writes in the fields of comparative constitutional and criminal law, with a particular interest in how law can be used to undermine human rights and erode pluralistic democratic governance in transitional societies. He holds degrees from Princeton, Stanford and Oxford.

The full interview runs 31 minutes, and is available here.

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Published on November 25, 2014
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. The U.S. Supreme Court was asked to review same-sex marriage cases from Kentucky and Michigan following a U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit ruling that upheld bans.
  2. A Hong Kong court notice ordering authorities to start clearing protest sites that have been occupied for seven weeks was published in leading newspapers.
  3. The question of whether Canada’s Métis and non-status Indians have a right to the same programs and services as First Nations and Inuit has fallen to the country’s Supreme Court.
  4. The U.K. Supreme Court will consider whether the government was entitled to override a court and block the disclosure of letters sent by Prince Charles to ministers in which he sought to influence official policies.
  5. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit upheld a Mississippi campaign finance law that requires disclosure of political contributions.

In the News

  1. Speaker of the Myanmar Pyithu Hluttaw, Thura U Shwe Mann, announced that no amendments will be made to the constitution until after next year’s elections, creating confusion for opposition parties.
  2. Japan Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has dissolved the lower house of parliament, enabling an early election to see how the public views his struggling economic policies.
  3. U.S. President Barack Obama announced executive action on immigration that would allow 4.7 million undocumented immigrants to stay in the United States.
  4. The Constitutional Council of France approved a law that sets out a procedure for removing the president from office in cases where there has been a “breach of their duties that is clearly incompatible with the exercise of their mandate.”
  5. Mexico’s government has vowed to take action to restore the credibility of institutions after the disappearance of 43 students more than two months ago.

New Scholarship

  1. Tamir Moustafa, Law and Courts in Authoritarian Regimes, Annual Review of Law and Social Science, Vol. 10 (2014) 281-299 (examining the ways in which law and courts are deployed as instruments of governance, how they structure state-society contention, and the circumstances in which courts are transformed into sites of active resistance)
  2. Yaniv Roznai, The Insecurity of Human Security, Wisconsin International Law Journal, Vol. 32, No. 1, 2014 (clarifying the distinctions between national security and human security, and demonstrating how this term—“human security”—cuts across the familiar dichotomy between human rights and security by approaching subjects that were typically the concern of human rights discourse through a security prism)
  3. Dawood I. Ahmed & Moamen Gouda, Measuring Constitutional Islamization: The Islamic Constitutions Index, Hastings International and Comparative Law Review, Forthcoming (exploring the universe of constitutional clauses that incorporate Islam and measuring and ranking Muslim countries’ constitutions based on their Islamicity)
  4. David Schleicher, Things Aren’t Going That Well Over There Either: Party Polarization and Election Law in Comparative Perspective, University of Chicago Legal Forum, Vol. 2015, Forthcoming (arguing that a common shift in voter preferences towards more radical and fundamentalist opinion among even a small slice of the electorate can explain polarization in the United States and changes in politics abroad)
  5. Jenia Iontcheva Turner, The Exclusionary Rule as a Symbol of the Rule of Law, Southern Methodist University Law Review, Vol. 67, 2014 (comparing approaches to the exclusionary rule and concluding with tentative predictions about the future of the rule in the United States and in new democracies)

Elsewhere Online

  1. Lissa Griffin, Prosecutorial Discretion Revisited: Charging, Comparative Law Prof Blog
  2. Andrea Pin, Tearing Down Sovereign Immunity’s Fence–The Italian Constitutional Court, the International Court of Justice, and the German War Crimes, Opinio Juris
  3. Prashant Jha, Nepal’s Constitution making: Bringing consensus back to Kathmandu, ConstitutionNet
  4. James Hand & Donal Coffey, Miliband’s senate of the regions and a constitutional convention conundrum, UK Constitutional Law Association
  5. Will Baude, The danger of signing unconstitutional laws, The Volokh Conspiracy
  6. Rosalind English, Irish Supreme Court struggles with outcome of surrogacy arrangements, UK Human Rights Blog
  7. Nathan Gardels, Weekend Roundup: Is China Outpacing Mexico on the Rule of Law?, The World Post

Calls for Papers

  1. The editors of the Cambridge Journal of International and Comparative Law and Hart Publishing have issued a call for papers for the Journal’s 4th annual conference to be held at the University of Cambridge on 8–9 May 2015.
  2. The Editorial Board of Biodiritto has launched, in occasion of the third issue of the journal, a call for papers dedicated to “Freedom of Scientific Research and Drug Testing.”
  3. The Younger Comparativists Committee of the American Society of Comparative Law has issued a call for participants for one (1) YCC scholar to attend a conference on “Access to Counsel During Criminal Proceedings:  Reshaping Rights and Remedies,” to be held on May 18-20, 2015, at the University of Warwick School of Law in England.
  4. Organizers have issued a call for papers for the 10th Annual Carleton Law and Legal Studies Graduate Conference on “Heroes and Villains: Imaginaries of Justice,” to be held on March 13, 2015, at Carleton University, in Ottawa, Canada.
  5. Dr. Shana Cohen of the Woolf Institute in Cambridge, United Kingdom has issued a call for papers for a workshop on “Minorities and Popular Culture in the Modern Middle East”
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Published on November 24, 2014
Author:          Filed under: Developments

Should Prisoners Have the Right to Assisted Suicide?

Michèle Finck, University of Oxford

Recently, a Belgian inmate, convicted of murder and rape, received a lethal injection. Most Europeans would feel nothing short of a shock when reading these lines. After all, the death penalty has been abolished in most European States in the aftermath of WWII, and is now outlawed by Protocol No. 6 to the ECHR. Belgium did not however breach any of its international obligations – rather it gave way to the inmate’s request to be euthanized.

The Belgian case raises a number of interesting questions in the context of a wider debate about euthanasia, a practice that has been legalized in a number of jurisdictions in recent years. Further, a number of countries, such as Canada and the UK, are currently debating whether assisted suicide should be legal. No doubt, euthanasia is a live issue in many jurisdictions at this moment in time. An aspect that is rarely addressed in the context of such debates however is the status of prisoners. This question, delicate as it may be, forces an evaluation of the circumstances in which it is ethically permissible to end one’s life.

Read the rest of this entry…

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Published on November 21, 2014
Author:          Filed under: Analysis

The Internet Tax Debate: Genuine Freedom of Assembly vs. the Illusion of Direct Democracy in Hungary

Zoltán Pozsár-Szentmiklósy, ELTE University, Budapest

On October 21, 2014, Hungarian government officials announced that in the 2015 state budget they would include a tax on internet data transfer. This so-called internet tax was widely criticized in the media and in civil society. A rapidly growing protest movement was organized on Facebook and a demonstration took place on October 26 in Budapest. The protest was suprisingly widely supported; several thousand protesters participated. The protesters expressed a clear message to the Government: they expected state officials to withdraw their proposal, otherwise after two days another demonstration would follow.

Due to the fact that there was no change in the official communication of the Government, two days later another demonstration was organised in Budapest and in several other cities. In the capital people gathered together in surprisingly large numbers (in the tens of thousands). According to them, the planned tax was a restriction of their freedom to access all relevant information related to private and public life. The organizers of the peaceful demonstration have also stated that their intention is to stand against the arbitrary legislation proposed by the Government. In this regard it is important to note that the freedom of information is a prerequisite for genuine and open debates related to public matters – an essential value of democracy itself.

Although the Government continued to refuse to give any reasonable explanation to the public regarding the new tax, three days later the prime minister announced that the Government would withdraw the proposal. The main argument expressed was that the governing party wants to govern together with the people, so there will be no decision which people don’t support. The prime minister also expressed his will to initiate a so called national consultation about the regulation related to the internet.

How can we assess all of these developments from the point of view of constitutional law? Read the rest of this entry…

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Published on November 19, 2014
Author:          Filed under: Developments

Video Interview: “Bills of Rights in the Common Law” Featuring Robert Leckey

Richard Albert, Boston College Law School

In this installment of our new video interview series at I-CONnect, I interview Robert Leckey on his forthcoming book entitled “Bills of Rights in the Common Law,” to be published by Cambridge University Press in May 2015.

Here is the book’s abstract:

Scholars have addressed at length the ‘what’ of judicial review under a bill of rights–scrutinizing legislation and striking it down–but neglected the ‘how’. Adopting an internal legal perspective, Robert Leckey addresses that gap by reporting on the processes and activities of judges of the highest courts of Canada, South Africa and the United Kingdom as they apply their relatively new bills of rights. Rejecting the tendency to view rights adjudication as novel and unique, he connects it to the tradition of judging and judicial review in the Commonwealth and identifies respects in which judges’ activities in rights cases genuinely are novel – and problematic. Highlighting inventiveness in rights adjudication, including creative remedies and guidance to legislative drafters, he challenges classifications of review as strong or weak. Disputing claims that it is modest and dialogic, he also argues that remedial discretion denies justice to individuals and undermines constitutional supremacy.

In the interview, we discuss what prompted this new inquiry into judicial review, why he chose as his case studies Canada, South Africa and the United Kingdom, how his book is distinguishable from other works in the field, notably by Stephen GardbaumJanet Hiebert and Mark Tushnet, and what he hopes readers will take away from his book.

Robert Leckey is an Associate Professor and William Dawson Scholar at McGill University, Faculty of Law, where he also directs the Paul-André Crépeau Centre for Private and Comparative Law. He teaches constitutional law and family law. A former law clerk for Justice Michel Bastarache of the Supreme Court of Canada, he holds degrees from Queen’s University, McGill and the University of Toronto. Leckey has earned many scholarly distinctions including the Prix de la Fondation du Barreau du Québec (2007), the Canadian Association of Law Teachers’ Scholarly Paper Prize (2009), the McGill Law Students’ Association’s John W. Durnford Teaching Excellence Award (2009), the Canada Prize of the International Academy of Comparative Law (2010), and the Principal’s Prize for Excellence in Teaching (2010).

The full interview runs 16 minutes, and is available here.

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Published on November 18, 2014
Author:          Filed under: Reviews

What’s New in Comparative Public Law

–Margaret Lan Xiao, Washington University in St. Louis

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. Armenia: The Constitutional Court endorses the constitutionality of the country’s accession to the Eurasian Economic Union.
  2. Turkey: Constitutional Court rules that some civil servants and institutions accused of biased and unjust behavior in handling a previous murder case should be investigated.
  3. Hungary: The Constitutional Court upholds the validity and legality of certain provisions in borrowers’ relief law which prohibits any unilateral changes to loan contracts.
  4. Dominican Republic: Various civil society organizations publicly rebuke the Constitutional Court’s previous ruling on the unconstitutionality of the Inter-American Human Rights Court’s jurisdiction.
  5. South Africa: The Constitutional Court is going to hear a case relating to a lower court’s ruling that a part of the current Criminal Procedure Act is unconstitutional.

In the News:

  1. Guyana: The President has suspended the National Assembly.
  2. Somalia: Parliament closed prematurely without official proceedings.
  3. South Africa: An extensive brawl broke out in Parliament.
  4. German: Parliament proposes an anti-doping law that would jail dopers.
  5. Ghana: Parliament is divided over the controversial Interstate Succession Bill.

New Scholarship

  1. Benjamin Schonthal, Constitutionalizing Religion: The Pyrrhic Success of Religious Rights in Postcolonial Sri Lanka, Journal of Law and Religion / FirstView Article (arguing that it is not law’s failure that adds to the intensity of religious tensions in Sri Lanka, but rather law’s pyrrhic success)
  2. Daniel J. Hulsebosch, The Revolutionary Portfolio: Constitution-Making and the Wider World in the American Revolution, NYU School of Law, Public Law Research Paper No. 14-56 (arguing that the American constitution-making in the founding era should be viewed with two dimensions of internationalism, one was diplomatic, and the other was cultural and intellectual, and to some extent, the intellectual dimension was autonomous from diplomacy for it engendered a transnational discussion about the optimal forms of institutional design)
  3. John Witte Jr., Religion, Emory Legal Studies Research Paper No. 14-314 (arguing that religion is an important source of modern human rights, and surveying the place of religion in modern international human rights)
  4. Jason Sorens et al, Arab Spring Constitution-Making: Polarization and State Building, Democratization: Building States & Democratic Processes EJournal Vol. 7, No. 41 (testing the validity of a hypothesis of the existence of a U-shaped relationship between political polarization in the general public and net state capacity-building provisions in constitutions of new democracies)
  5. Chien-Chih Lin, Majoritarian Judicial Review: The Case of Taiwan, National Taiwan University Law Review, Vol. 9:1, 2014 (demonstrating the fact that Constitutional Court in Taiwan is indeed a majoritarian court in terms of its docket records and agenda setting, and discovering that judicial self-restraint is indeed counter-majoritarian in Taiwan)

Elsewhere Online

  1. Jurgen Goossens et al: Video interview with Prof. Tierney: Should the People decide? The Scottish and Catalonian referenda, Bel Con Law Blog
  2. Ryan Mitchell, China’s Reforms: Law Without Rights or Law Without Substance? The Huffington Post
  3. Lyle Denniston, Constitution Check: Does the new Obamacare challenge have anything to do with the Constitution? Constitution Daily
  4. Dan Harris, How To Handle China’s Economic Slowdown, China Law Blog
  5. Richard Socarides, Will the Supreme Court Mandate Gay Marriage?, The New Yorker
  6. Betsy Woodruff, The Coming Immigration War, The Slate
  7. George Skelton, California Legislature is looking more moderate due to voting reforms, The Los Angeles Times

Call for Papers

  1. The International Society for the History and Theory of Intellectual Property has issued a call for papers for a workshop titled “Openness and Intellectual Property” to be held on July 22-24, 2015 at the University of Pennsylvania.
  2. Leiden Journal of International Law has issued a call for papers for its symposium of “The Changing Role of Scholarship in International Law” to be held on May 11, 2015 at Hague.
  3. Centre for the Study of Social Exclusion and Inclusive Policy (CSSEIP) has issued a call for papers for the Indian National Seminar on “Six Decades of Indian Constitution and Inclusiveness” scheduled to be held in February, 2015 at University of Mysore.
  4. The Department of Public Law and Jurisprudence, University of Johannesburg has issued a call for papers for the seminar on The Rule of Law and Sustainable Development to be held on March 25, 2015, at Cape Town.
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Published on November 17, 2014
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Against All Odds: The Kurds, Comparative Constitutionalism and Kobane

Erin McGrath, University of Pittsburgh

While the world watches the conflict carry on in Kobane, just over the Turkish border with Syria, important facts are understated in the press. The Kobane battle is the latest front in the effort by the Islamic State (IS), an armed terrorist group, to reestablish the Islamic Caliphate across Iraq and Syria. Most observers are unaware that these events have much to do with comparative constitutional law; yet, democratic constitutionalism is at the crux of the conflict.

The importance of the outcome in Kobane lies not from a potential victory by a cruel terrorist group. Other states’ intervention choices are strategically complicated, but the largest repercussions frome Kobane will be those of apathy, not just a failed battle. Democracy supporters not defending Kobane today is similar to the banality of evil.[i] Rather than deference to totalitarianism, instead, we are blinded by the sensationalization of the battle, with media focus on bearded terrorists, hostage beheadings, Kurdish women fighters,[ii] jihadi brides. Inaction in Kobane, where democratic constitutionalism has risen against all odds, is simply unjustifiable.[iii] Yet constitutions are not “sexy;” municipal meetings are not “click-bait.”

The political violence in the Kurdish regions of Iraq and Syria has been occurring for much longer than this latest onslaught.[iv] Since the promise for an independent Kurdish region in the Treaty of Sevres, to its revocation in the Treaty of Lausanne, Kurds have been seeking a homeland. Their struggle has been violent. Over a century later, Kurdish political organization, epitomized in places like Kobane, represents one of only a few independence movements in the Middle East that show what democracy in the region could look like. Among the minorities across Northern Iraq and Northern Syria, just one group embraces democratic constitutionalism: the Kurds.

Read the rest of this entry…

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Published on November 14, 2014
Author:          Filed under: Analysis