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What’s New in Public Law


Claudia Marchese, Research Fellow in Comparative Public Law at the University of Florence, Italy


Developments in Constitutional Courts

  1. The German Constitutional Court, in a decision dated 15 April 2020, held that citizens have the right to political protest if they adhere to social distancing rules in place to slow the spread of the coronavirus.
  2. As the covid-19 epidemic in Indonesia shows no signs of easing, the Supreme Court and the Constitutional Court have switched to virtual trials to keep the judicial system running.
  3. Bosnia’s Constitutional Court ruled that banning minors and people over 65 from leaving their homes because of the coronavirus pandemic breaches their right to freedom of movement and constitutes a disproportionate measure.
  4. The Constitutional Court of Kosovo has ruled against the Kurti government’s decision to restrict the movement of people to contain the spread of coronavirus. The court ruled that the restriction of rights and freedoms can only be done through laws passed in the Assembly.
  5. The Spanish Constitutional Court will hold a hearing for the first time through a teleconference to decide on the appeals by Catalan independentist leaders Oriol Junqueras and Raul Romeva.

In the News

  1. The plenary of Brazil’s Federal Supreme Court unanimously confirmed that the measures adopted by the federal government in Provisional Measure No. 926 of 20 March 2020 do not rule out the concurrent competence or ability of the states, Federal District, and municipalities to adopt normative and administrative measures to confront covid-19.
  2. The Turkish Parliament passed an early release bill that has been severely criticized by the opposition due to the exclusion of a large number of prisoners including politicians, journalists, writers and academics.
  3. The South African Government, based on the Disaster Management Act 2002, issued regulations for contact tracing and a national database to enable the tracing of persons who are known or reasonably suspected to have contacted COVID-19.
  4. Based on the President’s decree 28 March 2020, no. 491, the Colombian Congress is functioning through teleconference.
  5. The President of the Spanish Congress of Deputies allowed and encouraged all deputies to use of the remote electronic vote during the state of alarm to take part in the parliamentary sessions.
  6. The UK House of Commons approved a motion to allows MPs to take part in questions, urgent questions and ministerial statements via video link.
  7. Polish Sejm, the lower house of Parliament, voted to conduct the presidential elections scheduled for May through postal voting, due to the lockdown imposed for the coronavirus.

New Scholarship

  1. Ajla Škrbić, Immunity of Heads of State under Constitutional Law, Max Planck Encyclopedia of Comparative Constitutional Law (2019) (offering a broad overview concerning the immunity of heads of state both in criminal and civil matters)
  2. Charles M. Fombad, Nico Steytler (eds.), Corruption and Constitutionalism in Africa,  (2020) (examining the problem of corruption in Africa and assesses the anti-corruption measures that have been taken so far)
  3. Christian Lahusen (ed.), Citizens’ solidarity in Europe (2020) (highlighting the detrimental factors that tend to inhibit solidarity, and those that are beneficial for the nurturing of solidarity in the European area)
  4. Menelaos Markakis, Accountability in the Economic and Monetary Union. Foundations, Policy, and Governance (2020) (examining the accountability and transparency arrangements in the EMU and the Banking Union following the latest crisis in the Eurozone)
  5. Csaba Varga (ed.), Comparative Law and Multicultural Legal Classes: Challenge or Opportunity? (2020) (discussing comparative law education in multicultural classes)
  6. M. Mohsin Alam Bhat, Between Trust and Democracy: The Election Commission of India and the Question of Constitutional Accountability, 15 Comparative & Non-U.S. Constitutional Law eJournal (2020) (analyzing the issues related to the constitutional accountability and transparency of the Election Commission of India)
  7. Mathias Siems, New Directions in Comparative Law, 15 Comparative & Non-U.S. Constitutional Law eJournal (2020) (discussing new directions in comparative law)
  8. Se-shauna Wheatle, Common Law Constitutionalism Through Methodology, McGill Law Journal (forthcoming 2020) (making the case that methodology is a cornerstone in advance of common law constitutionalism both within jurisdictions and trans-nationally)
  9. Maxime St-Hilaire, Xavier Foccroulle Ménard, Nothing to Declare: A Response to Grégoire Webber, Eric Mendelsohn, Robert Leckey, and Léonid Sirota on the Effects of the Notwithstanding Clause, Constitutional Forum Constitutionnel (2020) (examining the interpretation of the “notwithstanding clause” of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms)

Calls for Papers and Announcements

  1. The International Forum on the Future of Constitutionalism presents an online course on “Modern Challenges in Constitutionalism: Perspectives from the World’s Leading Experts,” featuring lectures by Bruce Ackerman (Yale University), Carlos Bernal (Constitutional Court of Colombia), Rosalind Dixon (University of New South Wales), Menaka Guruswamy (Supreme Court of India), Ran Hirschl (University of Toronto), Vicki Jackson (Harvard University), David Landau (Florida State University), Mark Tushnet (Harvard University), and Mila Versteeg (University of Virginia). The course, directed by Richard Albert (Texas), will be held every Wednesday for eight weeks beginning May 20, 2020. Details and registration available here.
  2. The American Journal of International Law issued a call for papers for an Agora symposium on “The International Legal Order and the Global Pandemic.” The deadline for submissions is 1 July 2020.
  3. The Journal of Law and the Biosciences (JLB) solicits essays, commentaries, or short articles for a special issue on “Law and Ethics in the Time of a Global Pandemic.” The Journal especially encourages shorter pieces, of roughly 1500 to 5000 words.
  4. Chapters are being solicited for the Routledge Handbook of Cultural Legal Studies. To submit a proposal, send a title, 250 word abstract and three keywords by 30 April 2020.
  5. The British Association of Comparative Law (BACL) encourages the proposal of short blog pieces, in comparative perspective, on national reactions to Covid-19 pandemic. The first deadline for proposals is 15 May 2020.
  6. The European Yearbook of Constitutional Law has announced a call for submissions for its third volume (2021) on the theme of rendering advice on constitutional issues in modern polities. The deadline for proposals is 1 June 2020.

Elsewhere Online

  1. Callum Tindall, A Brexit extension will help stop this crisis becoming a disaster, LSE Brexit
  2. Alexandra Bulat, Soundbites won’t help migrants – policy change will, LSE Brexit
  3. Rebecca Schiel, Bruce Wilson, Malcolm Langford, The Human Right to Water in a Global Pandemic, LSE Human Rights
  4. Sven Jürgensen, Frederik Orlowski, Critique and Crisis: The German Struggle with Pandemic Control Measures and the State of Emergency, Verfassungsblog
  5. Joelle Grogan, Right Restriction or Restricting Rights? The UK Acts to Address COVID-19, Verfassungsblog
  6. Serdar Ünver, Fighting COVID-19 – Legal Powers, Risks and the Rule of Law: Turkey, Verfassungsblog
  7. Gautam Bhatia, An Executive Emergency: India’s Response to Covid-19, Verfassungsblog
  8. Robert Schiller, Now the world faces two pandemics: one medical, one financial, Yale MacMillan Center 9. Marystella Auma Simiyu, Digital solutions for African elections in the time of COVID-19, AfricLaw
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Published on April 27, 2020
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