Blog of the International Journal of Constitutional Law

Month: April 2010

  • Indonesia Blasphemy Ruling

    As a follow up to my earlier post on this topic, Indonesia’s Constitutional Court has recently upheld the nation’s controversial anti-blasphemy law. To quote Chris Blake from the Associated Press, “The court ruled…that the 1965 law, which allows for criminal penalties and bans on people or groups that “distort” the central tenets of six officially recognized religions, was in line with the constutition and was vital to religious harmony.”

  • The Iraq Judiary: A Correction and Apology

    I feel compelled to update my March 31 post about the Iraq Federal Supreme Court’s recent ruling on the meaning of “largest Council of Representatives bloc” in Article 76 of the Iraq Constitution. I maligned the Court for ruling that the phrase referred to post-election coalitions (multiple party lists that come together to form a government) rather than the party lists considered separately.

  • Transitional Justice in Latin America: Recent Developments

    Last Tuesday April 20, a federal court in Argentina sentenced former president Reynaldo Bignone to 25 years in prison for human rights abuses during the 1976-1983 “dirty war”. The Court also sentenced five other retired military officers to prison terms ranging from 17 to 25 years in connection with abuses during the military regime.

  • New developments in Japanese religion case

    As noted in January, the Japanese Supreme Court held that Sunagawa city’s allowing the free use of its land by the Sorachi-buto shrine violated two provisions of the Japanese Constitution: Art. 20(1) (“No religious organization shall receive any privileges from the State, nor exercise any political authority.”)

  • Bilingualism on the Supreme Court of Canada

    Should Canadian Supreme Court justices be bilingual? That question is the latest battleground in the enduring debate on language rights and representation in Canada. The Supreme Court Act requires that at least three of the nine Canadian Supreme Court Justices come from Quebec, which has historically been the heart of Canada’s French-speaking community.

  • Iraq’s Bush v. Gore?

    A Special Iraqi Electoral Court today waded even deeper into political and electoral waters, ordering a partial recount of votes cast in last month’s parliamentary election. In so doing the court upset the Independent Higher Electoral Commission’s certification of the results and has played right into the hands of Prime Minister Nouri Al-Maliki, who seems to be pulling out all the stops to win a plurality of seats in Parliament.

  • Indonesia Blasphemy Hearing

    The Indonesian Constitutional Court is holding a hearing on the legality of the nation’s 1965 Blasphemy Law. The law officially acknowledges six religions: Buddhism, Catholicism, Confucianism, Hinduism, Islam, and Protestantism. It also essentially prohibits “religious based activities” that “resemble the religious activities of the religion in question, where such interpretation and activities are in deviation of the basic teachings of the religion.”

  • Guest blogger Schor: Should national high courts be staffed largely with bureaucrats?

    The resignation of Justice John Paul Stevens has given rise to speculation as to his replacement. It has become an almost invariable pattern in the United States to appoint professional bureaucrats (i.e., judges who have toiled in the lower federal courts) to the high court.

  • Big constitutional changes in Pakistan

    The Associated Press reports that Pakistan’s National Assembly has just passed a mammoth package of constitutional amendments, the so-called “18th Amendment Bill.” Passage required a two-thirds majority; the actual vote was unanimous. The most noteworthy aspect of the amendment bill-which actually contains a total of 105 amendments to the constitutional text-is the extent to which President Zardari relinquishes power.

  • Constitutions and budgeting: why don’t we observe more pre-commitment?

    A popular academic theory of constitutions holds that constitutions serve to commit the polity across time. Knowing that we are likely to try to impose majority will on minorities in the future, we tie our collective hands to limit the damage that can be done to individual and community rights.