Blog of the International Journal of Constitutional Law

Month: January 2011

  • New report on Human Dignity

    We have a new report on the protection of human dignity in national constitutional texts, available in the “Reports” section of the website under the “Rights” tab, or directly here. From what we can tell, the concept first appeared in the constitutions of Finland and Estonia in 1919 and spread rapidly after its adoption as a core concept of international human rights law after World War II.

  • French Court Affirms Ban on Gay Marriage

    Yesterday, the French Constitutional Council upheld a law prohibiting gay marriage. The ruling appears to be as much about the institutional relationship between courts and legislatures in France as it is about marriage itself. In its short decision, the Constitutional Council made two points of note.

  • Further Changes Proposed to the Turkish Constitutional Court

    Late last year, in September 2010, Turkish voters approved by 58% of the vote a set of constitutional amendments, which included a court-packing plan that expanded the size of the Turkish Constitutional Court from eleven to seventeen seats (which I discussed here).

  • Independent Institutions in Iraq

    The Iraq Federal Supreme Court (FSC), following a petition by Prime Minister Maliki’s office, has just ruled that independent commissions such as the Independent High Electoral Commission (IHEC) and the Central Bank of Iraq are to be attached to the executive branch.

  • Tunisia and constitutional transition

    The situation in Tunisia is perhaps too fluid to speculate on, but if the current situation stabilizes, it is an interesting example of constitutional compliance under a (potentially collapsing) authoritarian regime. Article 57 of the 1959 Constitution, as amended, reads: “In case the Presidency of the Republic becomes vacant on account of death, resignation, or permanent disability, the Constitutional Council shall meet immediately and pronounce the permanent vacancy by absolute majority of its members.

  • Three Modalities of Comparison: Arizona’s Exceptionalism?

    For comparativists, South Africa is a gold mine. It offers comparative law scholars a rich repository of judgments that often develop in exquisite detail instructive comparisons between and among states. Of course, this is not a matter of happenstance. South Africa’s constitutional text actually commands courts to compare in some instances and also invites courts to compare in others.

  • Iowa Supreme Court Crisis?

    In November, the people of the State of Iowa voted not to retain three of their seven Supreme Court Justices. Nothing like this had ever happened before. The result received national and international attention, given the real dangers that the vote poses to separation of powers and an independent judiciary.

  • Amending the Unamendable Constitutional Clauses in Honduras?

    The Honduran congress has passed, by the required supermajority, a reform to constitutional Article 5 that refers to the requisites to call for a plebiscite or a referendum as well as to the scope of issues that can be decided using those mechanisms of direct democracy.

  • A Comparativist Joins the German Constitutional Court

    The Federal Constitutional Court of Germany will welcome a new judge in 2011: Prof. Dr. Susanna Baer, an enthusiastic comparativist whose work probes a number of fields including human rights, gender equality, law & religion, and legal theory. Baer, who most recently held a professorship at the Humboldt University Berlin, has written a number of papers on comparative constitutional law, including a recent piece in the University of Toronto Law Journal entitled “Dignity, Liberty, Equality: A Fundamental Rights Triangle of Constitutionalism,” which is available here (subscription required).

  • The Canadian angle to the Ugandan High Court’s ruling

    Follow-up on Tom’s very timely coverage of the Ugandan High Court decision forbidding a tabloid newspaper from publishing the names and pictures of suspected homosexuals (and urging that they be killed). The CBC reports on the Canadian angle to this story: the Ugandan decision cited with approval a 2002 Saskatchewan Court of Queen’s Bench decision upholding penalties imposed by the Saskatchewan Human Rights Commission upon a private individual who had taken out an anti-gay advertisement in a newspaper.