Blog of the International Journal of Constitutional Law and

What’s New in Public Law

–Sandeep Suresh, Research Associate (Jindal Global Law School)

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

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

Developments in Constitutional Courts

  1. A 9-judge bench of the Indian Supreme Court hears oral arguments to decide whether the right to privacy is a fundamental right under the Constitution.
  2. After closing the famous right to food litigation proceedings recently, in another petition, the Indian Supreme Court issued further directions to the Central Government to effectively implement the National Food Security Act 2013.
  3. The Federal Constitutional Court of Germany held that the Federal Government violated the rights of Bundestag, its members and parliamentary groups by not providing comprehensive information on the 1980 Oktoberfest Bombing. The Government had based its refusal to share information on the ground of national security.
  4. The Constitutional Court of Zimbabwe ruled that citizens residing abroad must physically return to vote in elections. Giving reasons for a 2013 court order the Court held that the government is not obligated to provide polling stations abroad or facilitate postal ballots.
  5. The Supreme Court of Venezuela ruled that the opposition-led National Assembly violated the Constitution in purporting to appoint a set of alternative Supreme Court judges.
  6. The Constitutional Court of Georgia decriminalized possession of small amounts of marijuana.
  7. The Constitutional Court of Indonesia rejected a judicial review petition to challenge several articles in a 2011 law that regulate the term of office of its own justices.
  8. The Constitutional Court of Gabon postponed the general election.
  9. Baroness Hale became the first female president of the UK Supreme Court.

In the News

  1. A district court judge in Germany prohibited a Syrian woman-litigant in a divorce case from to wear her headscarf in the courtroom.
  2. Polish President Andrzej Duda vetoed two new laws but approving a third, which gives the justice minister the right to name the heads of Poland’s lower courts. The first vetoed bill requires all Supreme Court judges to step down and gives the Justice Minister the power to decide who should stay, while the latter would enable politicians to control who sits on the National Judiciary Council which nominates Supreme Court judges.
  3. The Taipei City government amended the city’s housing regulations to allow same-sex couples to apply for public housing, starting in mid-August.
  4. The Indian state of Karnataka formed a 9-member government committee to consider the legality of having a State Flag.
  5. The Central Government of India plans to introduce the Human DNA Profiling Bill.
  6. The Irish Legislative Committee on Arts and Heritage proposed to amend the Constitution to include cultural rights of Irish citizens.
  7. The Parliament of Ukraine passed a bill that allows any citizen to approach the Constitutional Court with a constitutional complaint.

New Scholarship

  1. Colin PA Jones, From Great Writ to Tuning Fork: How Habeas Corpus was Tamed in Japan, 12 University of Pennsylvania Asian Law Review (2017) (critically examining the role of habeas corpus in the Japanese legal system)
  2. Rivka Weill, Election Integrity: The Constitutionality of Transitioning to Electronic Voting in Comparative Terms, in Corien Prins et al. (eds.), Digital Democracy in a Globalized World (forthcoming 2017) (describing the perils of an introduction of electronic voting systems in democracies)
  3. Stephan Michel and Ignacio N. Cofone, Majority Rules in Constitutional Referendums, 70 Kyklos (2017) (arguing that the current default rule of simple majority in referendums to ratify a new constitution is without theoretical justification and that a qualified majority rule can improve the legitimacy and stability of the new constitution)
  4. Lina Papadopoulou, Ingolf Pernice and Joseph HH Weiler (eds.), Legitimacy Issues of the European Union in the Face of Crisis9 ECLN Series (2017) (analysing a series of profound crises within the EU and the judicial response to them, including the financial crisis, the challenge of increased immigration, and the growth of Euroscepticism)
  5. Lina Papadopoulou, ‘All Good Things Come in Threes’: From a Double to a Triple Democratic Legitimacy of the European Union, in Lina Papadopoulou et al. (eds.), Legitimacy Issues of the European Union in the face of Crisis (2017) (reacing the theories that have developed concerning the democratic legitimacy of the European Union)
  6. Claudia Geiringer, When Constitutional Theories Migrate: A Case Study, American Journal of Comparative Law (forthcoming 2017) (examining how JH Ely’s representation-reinforcing theory of constitutional interpretation in the US ended up being used as a blueprint for the formulation of the New Zealand Bill of Rights Act)
  7. Nicholas Aroney, R (Miller) v Secretary of State for Exiting the European Union: Three Competing Syllogisms, 80 The Modern Law Review (2017) (examining the proposition that the European Communities Act had established EU lawmaking and lawinterpreting institutions as new “sources of law,” which were integrated into the UK domestic system without disrupting the principle of parliamentary sovereignty)

Calls for Papers and Announcements

  1. Jindal Global Law School, Melbourne Law School, NUS Faculty of Law, and the Bonavero Institute of Human Rights (University of Oxford) jointly organize a workshop on “Comparative Perspectives on Administrative Law in India,” to be held on April 6–7, 2018 in Delhi, India. The deadline for abstracts is September 5, 2017.
  2. McGill University’s Faculty of Law invites applications for three entry-level, tenure-track positions (rank of an assistant professor), due to start by August 1, 2018. Candidates from all fields of law will be considered, but the University’s priority is in the fields of transsystemic legal education (including indigenous legal traditions), criminal justice, and domestic and international corporate and commercial law. The application deadline is October 30, 2017.
  3. Iuris Dictio invites submissions for its next issue, which will be published in June 2018. The theme is the “fundamental role of constitutional reasoning in finding and preserving common goals in public discourse in Latin America.” The submission deadline is December 15, 2017.
  4. Manchester International Law Centre organizes a workshop on “Democratic Governance and International Law: 25 Years Later,” on November 3, 2017. The deadline for submissions of abstracts is August 15, 2017.
  5. Stanford Law Review organizes a symposium on the occasion of the release of its 70 Volume, on February 9-10, 2018. The theme of the event is “Federalism in an Age of Polarization.”

Elsewhere Online

  1. Colin PA Jones, When open minds fight closed courts in Japan, The Japan Times
  2. Hualing Fu, Guide to Legislative Interpretation in China, HKU Legal Scholarship Blog
  3. Noah Feldman, Trump’s Pardoning Himself Would Trash Constitution, Bloomberg View
  4. Rick Lyman, In Poland, an Assault on the Courts Provokes Outrage, The New York Times
  5. Roberto Niembro, Conceptualizing authoritarian constitutionalism: A Latin American view, Völkerrechtsblog
  6. Faizan Mustafa, A Litmus Test: Supreme Court must interpret Constitution in a manner that ensures right to privacy, The Indian Express
  7. Andrew Edgar, Deliberative Democracy and Regulation-Making Systems, Admin Law Blog
  8. Kriszta Kovács, Why Do We Need International Legal Standards for Constitutional Referendums?, Verfassungsblog
  9. Faisal Siddiqi, Paradox of accountability, Dawn
  10. Joe Tomlinson, The Policy and Politics of Building Tribunals for a Digital Age: How ‘Design Thinking’ Is Shaping the Future of the Public Law System, UK Constitutional Law Association
  11. Pierre de Vos, What is to be done about the Public Protector?, Constitutionally Speaking
  12. Delaram Farzaneh, Iran’s Presidential Charade: Women Out or In?, OxHRH
  13. Sidi M. Diawara, Mali: Peace process, constitutional reform, and an uncertain political future, ConstitutionNet
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Published on July 24, 2017
Author:          Filed under: Developments

Book Review: Andrew Roberts on Anna Fruhstorfer and Michael Hein’s “Constitutional Politics in Central and Eastern Europe: From Post-Socialist Transition to the Reform of Political Systems”

[Editor’s Note: In this installment of I•CONnect’s Book Review Series, Andrew Roberts reviews Anna Fruhstorfer and Michael Hein’s book on Constitutional Politics in Central and Eastern Europe: From Post-Socialist Transition to the Reform of Political Systems (Springer 2016)]

Andrew Roberts, Northwestern University

The fall of communism gave rise to a wave of theorizing about constitutionalism. Western experts rushed in to help advise these countries on their new constitutions and these efforts received institutional support in the form of the Venice Commission founded by the Council of Europe and the Center for the Study of Constitutionalism in Eastern Europe at the University of Chicago. Luminaries like Cass Sunstein, Jon Elster, Adam Przeworski, and Stephen Holmes were among those thinking deeply about how constitutional politics in the region should and would evolve.

Yet, by the late 1990s, this interest had peaked and attention turned to other topics. It seemed that the Western part of the region had become stable democracies while much of the post-Soviet sphere was populated by incorrigible autocracies. The days when constitutions mattered seemed to have passed.

The volume under review here makes the case that constitutional politics still matters.

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Published on July 21, 2017
Author:          Filed under: Reviews

Special Discount–New Book–The Foundations and Traditions of Constitutional Amendment

I-CONnect is pleased to share a special 20% discount code for our readers interested in a new volume on The Foundations and Traditions of Constitutional Amendment, edited by Richard Albert, Boston College Law School, Xenophon Contiades, Panteoin University of Social and Political Sciences, and Alkmene Fotiadou, Centre for European Constitutional Law.

To order this book at the discount rate in the United States, enter code AA17 at checkout here. To order at the discount rate in the rest of the world, enter code AA17 at checkout here.

The book’s description follows below:

There is growing interest in constitutional amendment from a comparative perspective. Comparative constitutional amendment is the study of how constitutions change through formal and informal means, including alteration, revision, evolution, interpretation, replacement and revolution. The field invites scholars to draw insights about constitutional change across borders and cultures, to uncover the motivations behind constitutional change, to theorise best practices, and to identify the theoretical underpinnings of constitutional change.

This volume is designed to guide the emergence of comparative constitutional amendment as a distinct field of study in public law. Much of the recent scholarship in the field has been written by the scholars assembled in this volume. This book, like the field it hopes to shape, is not comparative alone; it is also doctrinal, historical and theoretical, and therefore offers a multiplicity of perspectives on a subject about which much remains to be written. No other book to date has covered the ground we do here.

This book aspires to be the first to cover comprehensively the new dimensions of the study of constitutional amendment, and will become a reference point for all scholars working on the subject. The volume covers all the topics where innovative work is being done, such as the notion of the people, the trend of empirical quantitative approaches to constitutional change, unamendability, sunrise clauses, constitutional referenda, reconceptualising the conventional divide between constituent and constituted powers, among other important subjects. We have designed this volume to be a dialogue that cuts through these innovative conceptualisations and highlights scholarly disagreement and, in so doing, puts ideas to the test.

The volume therefore captures the fierce ongoing debates on the relevant topics, it reveals the current trends and contested issues, and it offers a variety of arguments elaborated by prominent experts in the field. It will open the way for further dialogue.

Contributors to the volume include Richard Albert, The State of the Art in Constitutional Amendment; Yaniv Roznai, Linking Unamendability and Amendment; Zoran Oklopcic, Revolutions, Amendments and Constitutional Moments; Oran Doyle, Constraints on Constitutional Amendment Powers; Mark Tushnet, Comment on Doyle’s Constraints on Constitutional Amendment Powers; Thomas Pereira, Constituting the Amendment Power: A Framework for Comparative Amendment Law; Luisa Fernanda García López, Sieyès: The Spirit of Constitutional Democracy?; Joshua Braver, Revolutionary Reform in Venezuela: Electoral Rules and Historical Narratives in the Creation of the 1999 Constitution; Juliano Zaiden Benvindo, ‘Revolutionary Reform’ and the Seduction of Constitutionalism; Sofia Ranchordás, Constitutional Sunrise; Oran Doyle and David Kenny, Constitutional Change and Interest Group Politics: Ireland’s Children’s Rights Referendum; Xenophon Contiades and Alkmene Fotiadou, Amendment-Metrics: The Good, the Bad and the Frequently Amended Constitution; James E. Fleming, Comment on Amendment-Metrics: The Good, the Bad and the Frequently Amended Constitution; Lael K. Weis, Constituting ‘the People’: The Paradoxical Place of the Formal Amendment Procedure in Australian Constitutionalism; Kate Glover, Hard Amendment Cases in Canada; Derek O’Brien, Formal Amendment Rules and Constitutional Endurance: The Strange Case of the Commonwealth Caribbean; Jean-Philippe Derosier, The French People’s Role in Amending the Constitution: A French Constitutional Analysis from a Pure Legal Perspective, Duncan Okubasu, The Implication of Conflation of Normal and ‘Constitutional Politics’ on Constitutional Change in Africa; Jurgen Goossens, Direct Democracy and Constitutional Change in the US: Institutional Learning from State Laboratories; Xenophon Contiades and Alkmene Fotiadou, The Emergence of Comparative Constitutional Amendment as a New Discipline: Towards a Paradigm Shift.

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Published on July 20, 2017
Author:          Filed under: Developments

Conference Report–Symposium on “The Constitution of Canada: History, Evolution, Influence, and Reform”

Asress Gikay, Matteo Monti, and Orlando Scarcello, Scuola Universitaria Superiore Sant’Anna Pisa (SSSA)–Sant’Anna School of Advanced Studies, Pisa, Italy

On May 24, 2017, the Institute of Law, Politics and Development (Istituto di Diritto, Politica e Sviluppo) [DIRPOLIS] of Sant’Anna School of Advanced Studies hosted a symposium on “The Constitution of Canada: History, Evolution, Influence & Reform”, on the occasion of the 150th Anniversary of Confederation and in memory of Prof. Alessandro Pizzorusso. The symposium was supported by the Canadian Embassy, the International Association of Constitutional Law and the Italian Society of European and Comparative Law.

The symposium being conceived within the setting of the Sant’Anna Legal Studies Project, was co-convened by Giuseppe Martinico (SSSA), Richard Albert (Boston College Law School), Antonia Baraggia (University of Milan), and Cristina Fasone (LUISS, Rome). Scholars from around the world gathered to discuss the historical evolution of the Canadian constitution and its interplay with national constitutional laws.

The Symposium was organized into four panels each with one discussant. Each panelist had ten minutes to present the core of his/her paper followed by comments and questions from the discussants and the participants. Susanna Mancini (University of Bologna & Johns Hopkins University) delivered a keynote address entitled “Constitutional Currents and Cross-Currents: From Canada to Europe and Back.”  

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Published on July 19, 2017
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Global Survey for Constitutional Law Experts on Small-c Constitutions

Adam Chilton, Assistant Professor of Law, University of Chicago Law School, and Mila Versteeg, Professor of Law, University of Virginia School of Law

We are asking ICONect readers to please take our survey on small-c constitutions! The survey asks a number of questions about the nature and sources of constitutional law in your country and will take about 10-30 minutes of your time. We will acknowledge your expertise in our forthcoming book manuscript. We are also planning to publish our findings online on a designated website, along with the list of experts (name and biographical information) that participated in the survey. We are providing some more information on the survey below, but we want to thank you in advance for your time.

Please click here to take our survey.

Let us explain why we are fielding this survey. A recent wave of comparative constitutional law scholarship, which includes work of our own, has relied on the coding of written constitutions to make claims about the social and political origins of constitutional text, their historical trajectory and the effectiveness of particular constitutional provisions. The data for these studies are commonly drawn from the Comparative Constitutions Project, but also from other datasets, such as the Versteeg dataset, which focuses on constitutional rights and a number of smaller-scale efforts by Linda Keith and Oona Hathaway.

This new wave of scholarship is not without its critics. The primary critique is that it relies on constitutional text alone and does not capture the broader body of constitutional law comprising judicial interpretations, legislation with quasi-constitutional status, unwritten conventions, and a range of other constitutional materials. In other words, it relies only on the “large-C” constitution—that is, the text of the written constitution—and not the “small-c” constitution—that is, the larger set of interpretations, conventions, and laws that surround the constitutional text and that can also be part of constitutional law. The criticism rings true especially with American constitutional scholars, as the U.S. Constitution consists of a mere 7,632 words and most of the constitutional law action is found in federal court interpretations of the text. The critique is also salient to the U.K., which famously lacks a written constitution entirely, and Israel, where almost all of the Supreme Court’s rights jurisprudence derives from a single human dignity provision in the Basic Law on Human Dignity. These experiences suggest that the coding of constitutional texts alone captures only a small part of the constitutional realities in a country.

While the criticism is less salient as applied to countries where the written constitution is more specific and more frequently amended, it does reveal an important potential shortcoming in this recent wave of scholarship. These critiques therefore raise the question: is it possible to identify and quantify the larger body of constitutional law, or the so-called “small-c” constitution, and to extend empirical constitutional studies from constitutional texts alone to constitutional law as a whole?

Through this survey, we seek to do just that. We are asking experts to answer whether a number of constitutional rights are constitutionally protected, either in the written constitution or in some other form. We further ask what the main constitutional sources for constitutional rights are; judicial interpretations, legislation with quasi-constitutional status, constitutional conventions, or some other source. We also have a few questions on whether the constitutional rights protections are actually respected in practice.

While large-C constitutions can be captured without in-depth country knowledge, we believe that systematically capturing and comparing small-c constitutions cannot be done without the help of country experts. It is our hope that, in collaboration with constitutional law experts globally, we can start answering a new set of questions; how is it that most countries protect constitutional rights; how well does the large-C Constitution capture the extent to which rights are protected; and what are the main sources of constitutional law in different countries. We thank you in advance for your participation, and cannot wait to share our findings on this forum!

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Published on July 17, 2017
Author:          Filed under: Developments

What’s New in Public Law

–Simon Drugda, Nagoya University Graduate School of Law (Japan)

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

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

Developments in Constitutional Courts

  1. The Constitutional Court of Kosovo approved the new war crimes tribunal (KRSJI – Kosovo Relocated Specialist Judicial Institution), established with EU funds at The Hague to prosecute crimes committed during and immediately after the 1998-99 Kosovo war.
  2. The European Court of Human Rights upheld a ban in Belgium on burqas and other full-face Islamic veils.
  3. The Constitutional Court of Georgia again overturned a ban on donation of blood by “men who have had sex with other men.”
  4. The Federal Constitutional Court of Germany decided that the provisions of the Act on Uniformity of Collective Agreements are for the most part compatible with the Basic Law.
  5. The Federal Constitutional Court of Germany found parts of loss forfeiture rules unconstitutional. The court gave the legislature a grace period until December 31, 2018, to pass a replacement provision with retroactive effect as of January 1, 2008.
  6. The Supreme Court of India ordered the Central Bureau of Investigation to probe 95 alleged fake encounter killings in Manipur that involve the army, police, and paramilitary forces of India.
  7. A judge on the High Court of Hong Kong voided the oaths of office and removed from the legislature four opposition lawmakers for improper swearing-in.
  8. The UK Supreme Court held that a gay retiree’s husband is entitled to the same pension benefits a wife would enjoy regardless of when payment into the program began.

In the News

  1. Myanmar refuses visas to UN team investigating abuse of Rohingya Muslims, after UN report said treatment of minority group could amount to ethnic cleansing.
  2. Zambian opposition party sues the Parliament for approving the state of emergency in the absence of its suspended MPs.
  3. Polish ruling Law and Justice (PiS) lawmakers submitted a draft bill that would replace all Supreme Court judges except those chosen by the Justice Minister.
  4. The leader of the junior partner in Japan’s ruling coalition urged PM Shinzo Abe to focus on regaining public trust after a slide in popularity, and said revising the pacifist constitution was not a priority for voters.
  5. An Australian senator resigns after it emerged that he holds dual citizenship with New Zealand.
  6. The United Nations called on Venezuela’s government to let people take part in an unofficial referendum on the Constitution.
  7. The Parliament of Malta voted to legalize same-sex marriage.
  8. London’s High Court of Justice ruled that the UK can continue to export arms to Saudi Arabia.
  9. The UK Parliament published the EU withdrawal bill.
  10. A constitutional amendment on compulsory land acquisition splits the Parliament in Uganda.
  11. American opposition lawmakers filed an article of impeachment against President Trump.

New Scholarship

  1. Richard Albert, Xenophon Contiades & Alkmene Fotiadou (eds), The Foundations and Traditions of Constitutional Amendment (Oxford: Hart 2017) (guiding the emergence of comparative constitutional amendment as a distinct field of study)
  2. Mohamed Abdelaal, Extreme Secularism vs. Religious Radicalism: The Case of the French Burkini, 23 ILSA Journal of International & Comparative Law (2017) (critically examining the impact of the French theory of Laïcité on individual freedom and religious liberty by tracking the decisions of the Conseil d’État, and the European Court of Human Rights that ban religious symbols and attires in France and several other jurisdictions in Europe)
  3. Or Bassok, The Supreme Court at the Bar of Public Opinion Polls, 23 Constellations (2016) (tracking how the reading of The Federalist No. 78 has changed in American Supreme Court jurisprudence following the invention of public opinion polling).
  4. Imran Ahmed, ‘Strategic Constitutions’: Constitutional Change and Politics in Pakistan, South Asia: Journal of South Asian Studies (2017) (arguing that constitutions can play an important role in fostering a degree of political co-operation if they are useful to the political strategies of both rulers and ruled)
  5. Todd A. Eisenstadt, A. Carl LeVan, and Tofigh Maboudi, Constituents Before Assembly: Participation, Deliberation, and Representation in the Crafting of New Constitutions (2017) (demonstrating that the level of participation in building democracy through new constitutions matters more than the content of the constitution itself)
  6. Joseph A. Seiner, The Supreme Court’s New Workplace: Procedural Rulings and Substantive Worker Rights in the United States (2017) (explaining how the US Supreme Court has undermined civil rights through procedural mechanisms and technicalities and proposing a framework for successful workplace litigation)
  7. Vincent Depaigne, Legitimacy Gap Secularism, Religion, and Culture in Comparative Constitutional Law (2017) (providing a synthetic approach to the contemporary debates on secularism and religion in a comparative study that focuses on the secular-religious dynamics in Asia and Europe)
  8. Stijn Smet and Eva Brems (eds.), When Human Rights Clash at the European Court of Human Rights (2017) (providing thorough analysis of leading Judgments of the ECtHR on human rights conflicts, including: freedom of expression versus right to reputation (defamation) and freedom of religion versus right to private life)

Calls for Papers and Announcements

  1. Católica Law Review invites submission of articles in the field of Public Law from all legal scholars (including law professors, practicing lawyers, doctoral candidates, and graduate students) for the January issue of 2018. The submission deadline is October 15, 2017.
  2. The German Section of the International Association for the Philosophy of Law and Social Philosophy, in collaboration with the Faculty of Law of the University of Freiburg invite abstract submissions for six panels at its its 2018 biennial conference in Freiberug, on the theme “Hans Kelsen’s Pure Theory of Law: Conceptions and Misconceptions.” Abstract submissions need be sent to by October 20, 2017.
  3. The Italian Law Journal invites submissions for its forthcoming issue (3:2, 2017) on the theme “Italian Corporate Law in the Context of a Globalized World.” The submission deadline is September 15, 2017, for non-native English speakers or September 30 for native English speakers.
  4. The Comparative Constitutional Law and Administrative Law Quarterly (CALQ) invites submissions for its next volume (3:4). The deadline for submissions is September 1, 2017.
  5. The Manchester International Law Centre at the University of Manchester invites submission for its “Democratic Governance Workshop,” to be held on November 3, 2017. The deadline for proposal submissions is August 15, 2017.
  6. The Institute for Interdisciplinary Legal Studies at the University of Lucerne invites applications for its Young Scholar Visiting Fellowship scheme for 2018. The deadline for submission of applications is November 30, 2017.

Elsewhere Online

  1. Mark Elliott, The EU (Withdrawal) Bill: Initial Thoughts, Public Law for Everyone
  2. Philipp Dann, The Global South in Comparative Constitutional Law, Verfassungsblog
  3. Peter Timmins, Australia’s commitment to open government reform, AUSPUBLAW
  4. Smaran Shetty, Making Sense of Judicial Language, Law and Other Things
  5. Gregory Gordon, A Set of International Crimes without Coherence or a Proper Name: The Origins of “Atrocity Speech Law” Opinio Juris
  6. Morgan O’Hara, The Constitution, By Hand, The New York Times
  7. Leslie Kendrick, How to defend the Constitution when the KKK comes to town, CNN
  8. Liaquat Ali Khan, Disciplining Lawyers for Harassment and Discrimination: A Time for Change, JURIST
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Published on July 17, 2017
Author:          Filed under: Developments

Book Review: Joe Tomlinson on Peter Cane’s “Controlling Administrative Power: An Historical Comparison”

[Editor’s Note: In this installment of I•CONnect’s Book Review Series, Joe Tomlinson reviews Peter Cane’s book on Controlling Administrative Power: An Historical Comparison (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press 2016)]

Joe Tomlinson, Lecturer in Public Law, University of Sheffield School of Law and Associate Fellow, Crick Centre for the Public Understanding of Politics.

The comparative study of law and administration did not keep pace with the recent journey of comparative constitutional studies from ‘a relatively obscure and exotic subject studied by a devoted few’ to ‘one of the more fashionable subjects in contemporary legal scholarship’.[1] This, of course, does not mean that there have not been important studies in the field. There were early landmark works, such as Goodnow’s 1903 study of the administrative law systems of the U.S., England, France, and Germany.[2] Since, administrative law texts that have comparative dimensions would, from time to time, appear. A very well-regarded example is Schwartz and Wade’s 1972 book on Administrative Law in Britain and the United States.[3] Notwithstanding such texts, there has been a lack of a sustained scholarly community devoted to studying the topic.  Now that seems to be changing. There is renewed interest in comparative administrative law and the signs of revival are many.[4]

One high-profile indicator is the international Public Law Conference series, first hosted in Cambridge in 2014, and again in 2016. The first conference considered the theme of Process and Substance in Public Law­. It was well attended by a diverse crowd of scholars from the common law world. The diversity of the audience and presentations made the affair, somewhat inevitably, drift towards having a comparative tone. Capitalising, the 2016 event—on the Unity of Public Law?—was a more pro-actively comparative affair. The concrete academic output from this series, thus far, has been two multi-jurisdictional works.[5] The less concrete, but even more valuable, gain has been the emergence of a biennial transnational forum for administrative lawyers—a new space where comparativism can breathe naturally. Another important indicator was a successful conference held at Yale University in 2008, organised by Professors Susan Rose-Ackerman and Peter Lindseth. The conference generated an edited volume, Comparative Administrative Law.[6] That volume spawned another conference, in 2016, which led to a second edition of the text.[7]  Beyond these two examples, there are many other signs that the field is springing back to life.[8]

It is against this backdrop that Professor Cane’s new book, Controlling Administrative Power: An Historical Comparison, is published.

Read the rest of this entry…

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Published on July 14, 2017
Author:          Filed under: Reviews

Call for Papers–“Constitutionalism in a Plural World”–Deadline July 23, 2017

Catarina Santos Botelho, Universidade Católica Portuguesa

The Porto Faculty of Law, Universidade Católica Portuguesa in Portugal is pleased to invite applications to attend its 2017 Conference “Constitutionalism in a Plural World”, that will take place on November 22nd and 23rd, at Porto.

Abstracts addressing the following issues (and others related to constitutionalism) are welcome:

  • history of constitutionalism, comparative constitutional law and science of public law;
  • constitutionalism beyond the state (societal constitutionalism, multilevel constitutionalism, European constitutionalism, etc.);
  • fundamental rights in the global arena;
  • intergenerational justice and rights of future generations;
  • citizenship and migrations;
  • the role of constitutional courts and the methodology for constitutional review;
  • constitutional interpretation and constitutional amendments;
  • democracy in the world society.

Younger academics, doctoral or master students, young legal professionals with an interest in scholarship are encouraged to apply. We accept two kinds of applications:

  1. In the form of an abstract of no more than 750 words,
  2. In the form of a completed paper with maximum length of 90.000 characters (spaces included). In this case, the completed paper should be sent until October 1st.

In both situations, applicants should send the abstract, along with their curriculum vitae, to by July 23rd. After review by the scientific committee, the chosen abstracts will be announced, no later than the 15th September.

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Published on July 12, 2017
Author:          Filed under: Developments

Special Discount for I-CONnect Readers–New Volume on “Comparative Constitutional Law in Latin America”

Richard Albert, I-CONnect Co-Editor

I-CONnect is pleased to share a special 35% discount code for our readers interested in this new volume on “Comparative Constitutional Law in Latin America,” co-edited by Rosalind Dixon, Professor of Law, University of New South Wales, Australia and Tom Ginsburg, Leo Spitz Professor of International Law, University of Chicago Law School, US.

The discount is available for this month, July 2017. Please use the code VIP35 at checkout here:

This book provides unique insights into the practice of democratic constitutionalism in one of the world’s most legally and politically dynamic regions. It combines contributions from leading Latin American and global scholars to provide ‘bottom up’ and ‘top down’ insights about the lessons to be drawn from the distinctive constitutional experiences of countries in Latin America, both in the Global South and the Global North.

Contributors: H. Alviar Garcia, C. Bernal, J.l. Colón-Ríos, J. Couso, R. Dixon, Z. Elkins, R. Gargarella, T. Ginsburg, A. Huneeus, D. Landau, J. Lemaitre, L. Lixinski, G.L. Negretto, R.A. Sanchez-Urribarri, M. Tushnet, O. Vilhena Vieira


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Published on July 12, 2017
Author:          Filed under: Developments

When is a Limp More than a Limp? Diagnosing Democratic Decay

Tom Gerald Daly, Fellow, Melbourne Law School; Associate Director, Edinburgh Centre for Constitutional Law

Sometimes a limp is just a limp–arising from a debilitating yet isolated injury or infection that will soon heal. However, sometimes a limp can be indicative of a degenerative disease such as multiple sclerosis. Gaining a clear diagnosis and prognosis of such systemic conditions is a serious challenge: the person affected might experience a continual worsening or multiplication of symptoms, stabilisation, or even a reversal of the condition.[1]

Diagnosing democratic decay has been occupying my mind in recent months, as I attempt to fashion analytical tools to assess a decline in the quality of democracy in states worldwide, which falls short of a democratic breakdown. As a process in flux, and with an uncertain outcome, it is not an easy task to distinguish decay from a democratic crisis punctuating democratic rule without degrading it, or changes that alter the texture of democracy, but not its inherent nature.

In writing a forthcoming book chapter[2] and papers for recent conferences worldwide[3] I have slowly fleshed out my thumbnail definition of democratic decay–incremental degradation of the structures and substance of liberal constitutional democracy–as a fuller analytical framework to discuss developments in India, Turkey, the Philippines, Poland, Venezuela, Brazil, South Africa, Hungary, and the US. My aim has been to test whether democratic decay can provide added analytical value as an organising concept, to achieve an empirically grounded, context-sensitive approach to identifying and assessing democratic decay in any given state, and to test the viability of my initial selection of country case-studies. As I sit on a flight bound for Gdańsk–where I will spend a week discussing the Polish experience with one of its leading analysts, Tomasz Koncewicz, among others–I find myself reflecting on what I have learned in recent months.

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Published on July 12, 2017
Author:          Filed under: Analysis