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Blog of the International Journal of Constitutional Law

I-CONnect Symposium–Contemporary Discussions in Constitutional Law–Part III: How Efficient is the Colombian Constitutional Court in Promoting Social Changes?

[Editor’s Note: This is Part III in our Externado symposium on “Contemporary Discussions in Constitutional Law.” The Introduction to the symposium is available here, Part I is available here, and Part II is available here.]


–Andrés Mauricio Gutiérrez Beltrán, Constitutional Law Professor, Universidad Externado de Colombia

Many academics assert that courts are powerful political actors. According to the dominant view, courts have the last word on moral controversies, they introduce new topics on the political agenda, they encourage social activists to stand up for their rights, they convince societies of the ethical value of these demands and they can even decide who becomes president[1] (E.g. Bush v. Gore).

Colombia is no exception. We think that the Colombian Constitutional Court (CCC) is a very powerful agent in Colombian society. Actually, from a certain perspective it is. For example, the Court has prohibited the presidential reelection of one of the most popular politicians in recent history. Despite the evident conservatism in our society, the Court has handed down decisions that contradict religious and moral dogmas. For instance, the Court invalidated provisions that prohibited abortion, euthanasia and the use of drugs. Therefore, it is easy to understand why scholars like David Landau claim that the CCC is today the most powerful court in the world[2]. Well, I am afraid that we should think twice before taking this as a compliment.

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Published on November 3, 2018
Author:          Filed under: Analysis
 

I-CONnect Symposium–Contemporary Discussions in Constitutional Law–Part II: Presidential Re-Election in Latin American Case Law: A Work in Progress

[Editor’s Note: This is Part II in our Externado symposium on “Contemporary Discussions in Constitutional Law.” The Introduction to the symposium is available here, and Part I is available here.]


–Sabrina Ragone, Associate Professor of Comparative Law, University of Bologna; Senior Research Affiliate, Max Planck Institute for Comparative Public Law and International Law

The study of Latin American constitutionalism is one of my main research interests; the region is today one of the most lively and original in the world in terms of constitutional developments and innovation[1].

Within this framework, I have started a new line of research dealing with presidential re-election in several jurisdictions, paying special attention to the role played by the corresponding supreme and constitutional courts. The theoretical and factual premises are the following: a) one of the main features of Latin American constitutionalism is the presence of presidential systems; b) the (constitutional) regulation of the re-election of the president should be considered as an element of the constitutional identity according to part of the scholarship; but c) this identity can go in both directions, towards permission and prohibition; d) numerous constitutional courts have dealt with the issue using two main parameters: the separation of powers and the principle of equality.

In the past two decades, there have been different constitutional approaches to regulating or prohibiting re-election: through i) constitutional amendment; ii) the election of a Constituent Assembly; iii) a popular consultation plus National Review Assembly); iv) referendum or Constituent Assembly plus referendum; finally, v) judicial intervention[2].

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Published on November 2, 2018
Author:          Filed under: Analysis
 

I-CONnect Symposium–Contemporary Discussions in Constitutional Law–Part I: The Paradox of the Transformative Role of the Colombian Constitutional Court

[Editor’s Note: This is Part I in our Externado symposium on “Contemporary Discussions in Constitutional Law.” The Introduction to the symposium is available here.]


–Carlos Bernal, Justice, Colombian Constitutional Court

The Colombian Constitutional Court is well-known worldwide for carrying out transformations that political authorities were unable to effectuate. The enforcement of constitutional rights has catalysed changes concerning the protection of vulnerable individuals (such as inmates,[1] and internally displaced people),[2] the elimination of discriminatory practices (for instance, against indigenous peoples and other minorities),[3] the advancement of real equality in the health and pensions systems,[4] and the assurance of a minimum core of economic and social rights against the political inertia.[5] Moreover, the Court has maintained essential constitutional principles in the face of constitutional amendments, in particular, those from presidential origin.[6]

On the one hand, these changes have still failed to achieve in full the goals set by the constitution. Thus, the Court should keep carrying out its transformative role. On the other hand, the Court is becoming the only battleground for solving deep-rooted societal conflicts. This centralization is engendering undeniable side effects that have the potential of hindering the transformations. This leads to a paradox: if the Court declines the task of continuing the transformations, the constitutional objectives concerning the realization of constitutional rights, the rule of law, and deliberative democracy will never be achieved in full. However, if the Court carries on with the changes, its decisions might not generate the desired transformative effects. This is due to the following side effects.

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Published on November 1, 2018
Author:          Filed under: Analysis
 

Introduction to I-CONnect Symposium–Contemporary Discussions in Constitutional Law

[Editor’s Note: I-CONnect is pleased to feature short posts based on papers presented at a symposium on “Contemporary Discussions in Constitutional Law” held at the Externado University of Colombia. This online symposium will feature nine parts, including this Introduction. We are very grateful to Professors Magdalena Correa Henao and Andrés Mauricio Gutiérrez Beltrán for convening the symposium, and for serving as guest editors for this online symposium.]


–Magdalena Correa Henao & Andrés Mauricio Gutiérrez Beltrán, Externado University of Colombia

The Department of Constitutional Law of Universidad Externado de Colombia hosted a symposium entitled Contemporary Discussions on Constitutional Law. The main goal of the event was to analyze some of the most relevant topics that are currently discussed in the field of constitutional law.

The symposium began with a presentation by Professor Carlos Bernal Pulido, justice of the Colombian Constitutional Court, who shared some thoughts about the great paradox of the “Transformative Role of the Colombian Constitutional Court.” This Court is well-known worldwide for carrying out transformations related to the enforcement of constitutional rights and the elimination of discriminatory practices, among other important issues. However, these changes have still failed to achieve in full the goals set by the Court, which leads to the above-mentioned paradox: if the Court declines the task of issuing its characteristic transformative decisions, the constitutional objectives concerning the realization of constitutional rights, the rule of law and deliberative democracy will never be achieved in full. However, if the Court carries on with the changes, its decisions might not generate the desired transformative effects. His paper will form the basis of his short post for I-CONnect, to be published next in this multi-part online symposium.

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100 Years of Austrian Republicanism – 100 Years of Austrian Federalism?

Anna Gamper, Professor of Public Law, University of Innsbruck

2018 is a very special year for Austrian constitutional lawyers since it was exactly 100 years ago today that the Republic of (German-)Austria (since 1919: Republic of Austria) was founded.

After the end of the First World War, the representatives of the remaining, predominantly German-speaking parts of the Austro-Hungarian monarchy (the so-called “Kronländer” or Cisleithanian Länder) assembled as the “Provisional National Assembly for German-Austria” in Vienna.

On 30 October 1918, the Assembly passed the “Resolution on the Fundamental Institutions of the State Power”[1] which vested the Provisional National Assembly with legislative powers and provided for an Executive Committee (“State Council”) that, elected by the Provisional National Assembly, acted as the Provisional Government.

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Published on October 30, 2018
Author:          Filed under: Developments
 

What’s New in Public Law

Gaurav Mukherjee, S.J.D. Candidate in Comparative Constitutional Law, Central European University, Budapest

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 contact.iconnect@gmail.com.

Developments in Constitutional Courts

  1. The Constitutional Court of Indonesia upheld the threshold (20 percent of the seats at the House of Representatives or 25 percent of the popular vote) for a party or a coalition of parties which is required for political parties to nominate presidential candidates.
  2. The Supreme Court of Canada refused to hear the appeal of a Sikh man and woman who were prohibited from entering Quebec‘s legislature while wearing kirpans (a ceremonial dagger carried by members of the Sikh religion).
  3. Spain’s Supreme Court said it had ended its investigation against 18 Catalan independence leaders who will now face trial, likely at the beginning of next year.
  4. The Supreme Court of the Maldives rejected President Abdulla Yameen’s petition to annul the September 23 election.
  5. The Supreme Court of Papua New Guinea dismissed a case brought by 731 Manus Island refugees seeking enforcement of their constitutional rights, which comes two years after the court had ruled that their detention was unlawful, after which the refugees had applied for compensation and orders they be resettled in another country.
  6. Romania’s Constitutional Court struck down dozens of changes to the criminal code made by the ruling Social Democrats that had been criticized by the European Union, diplomats and magistrates.
  7. The Constitutional Court of Zimbabwe struck down section 27 of the Public Order and Security Act, which gave authorities power ban public demonstrations, as unconstitutional.
  8. The Supreme Court of India referred a matter concerning the appointment procedure of the country’s Election Commissioner to a five judge Constitution Bench, in a case which may have an impact on its already fraught relationship between the executive and the judiciary.

In the News

  1. Hungary passed a law in pursuance of a constitutional amendment in June making rough sleeping a crime and empowering police to order homeless people to move into shelters, which rights advocacy groups say is cruel and does little to address underlying problems.
  2. Egypt’s parliament approved a three-month extension of a nationwide state of emergency, citing “security challenges facing the country and the importance of fighting terrorist movements targeting Egypt.”
  3. Kosovo’s lawmakers gave preliminary approval to legislation expanding the size and competencies of the country’s security forces during a session that was boycotted by ethnic Serb representatives.
  4. A 48-day extraordinary Diet session is set to open next week in Japan, within which a number of issues key to the nation’s future are set to be debated — including drastic revision of immigration law and a draft proposal from the ruling Liberal Democratic Party to revise the war-renouncing Article 9 of the Constitution.
  5. The Nigerian Senate passed a heavily revised version of the Electoral Act Amendment Bill, with changes to technology used in the conduct of elections, criteria for candidates, the limiting of campaign expenses, and addressing problems related to the omission of names of candidates or logo of political parties.
  6. Slovak parliament failed to pass an amendment to the Constitution that would have changed the process of selecting Constitutional Court judges.
  7. The Foreign Minister of Syria informed a top U.N. envoy that the drafting of a new constitution was a “sovereign matter” up to the Syrian people, potentially adding to the difficulty in finding a compromise solution to a civil conflict which has killed hundreds of thousands, and displaced millions.

New Scholarship

  1. Tamir Moustafa, Constituting Religion Islam, Liberal Rights, and the Malaysian State, Cambridge University Press, 2018 (using the case study of Malaysia, the book examines how legal arrangements which enshrine both Islam and liberal rights regimes enable litigation and feed the construction of a ‘rights-versus-rites binary’ in law, politics, and the popular imagination).
  2. Julia Dehm, Highlighting inequalities in the histories of human rights: Contestations over justice, needs and rights in the 1970s, 1 Leiden Journal of International Law, 2018 (considering the ways in which concerns about economic equalities, both among and within countries, were taken up in human rights debates of the 1970s and how concerns about economic inequalities impacted on discussions about the possibilities, objectives and conceptions of rights).
  3. Josh Chafetz and David E. Pozen, How Constitutional Norms Break Down, 65 UCLA Law Review 1430 (2018) (exploring some of the different modes in which unwritten norms break down in the United States constitutional system and the different dangers and opportunities associated with each).
  4. Tom Gerald Daly, Relation of Constitutional Courts / Supreme Courts to IACtHR, Max Planck Encyclopedia of Comparative Constitutional Law, 2018 (laying out the relationship between the Inter-American Court of Human Rights and the constitutional or supreme courts of the twenty States Parties to the American Convention on Human Rights).
  5. Balázs Fekete, Interpreting the History of Modern Comparative Law: Beyond Descriptive Linearity. The Case of Historical-Comparative Jurisprudence Rivista di diritti comparati 2018(2) (providing a challenge to the linear historic narrative trajectory of comparative law, combining English and Germanic law approaches).
  6. Fred O. Smith Jr., Abstention in the Time of Ferguson 131 Harvard Law Review 2283 (2018) (arguing for a fresh look at carving up exceptions to the rule of barring federal lawsuits against state civil and criminal law regimes which criminalize poverty, in instances where such lawsuits could be used to address systemic constitutional issues).
  7. Christopher Carothers, The Surprising Instability of Competitive Authoritarianism, 29(4) Journal of Democracy (October, 2018), (analyzing data sets from 35 countries, and arguing that competitive authoritarianism, which is the most type of hybrid regime combining authoritarian and democratic features, are unstable. The data indicates that most have either democratized or been replaced by new autocracies).
  8. International IDEA, The Global State of Democracy. Key Findings and New Data, 2018 (presenting findings from new data from International IDEA’s Global State of Democracy Indices, which depict democratic trends across five main attributes of democracy, as well as a number of sub-attributes and subcomponents, and aims to provide a new, comprehensive measurement of democracy).

Call for Papers and Announcements

  1. Boston College Law School, with support from the Institute for Liberal Arts, invites submissions from faculty and graduate students for a two-day conference on “Amending America’s Unwritten Constitution,” a timely subject of importance in history, law and politics. Interested scholars should email a CV and abstract no longer than 750 words by November 15, 2018 to tdo@law.utexas.edu on the understanding that the abstract will form the basis of the pre-conference draft to be submitted by April 15, 2019.
  2. The Australian Human Rights Institute, in association with the University of New South Wales invites registration for its conference to be held on 14-16 May, 2019, with its focus on topics modern slavery and supply chains, new technologies and human rights, climate justice and human rights, populism, leadership and human rights, diversity and human rights.
  3. International IDEA calls for applicants for the positions of Program Officer and Associate Program Officer at its offices in Yangon.
  4. The Review of Constitutional Studies/Revue d’études constitutionnelles invites submissions in English or French for its issues 23(2) and 24(1).
  5. McGill University’s Faculty of Law and the Peter Mackell Chair in Federalism invite submissions related to any aspect of federal theory or practice, by January 14, 2019 for Baxter Family Competition on Federalism.
  6. The Centre of Excellence for International Courts (iCourts) and PluriCourts (Centre for the Study of the Legitimate Roles of the Judiciary in the Global Order) invites applications for a high-level summer school for PhD students working on international courts in their social and political context. The deadline for applications is 1 February 2019.
  7. The Jean Monnet Center at NYU School of Law calls for applications to be appointed as Global & Senior Global Emile Noël Research Fellows who should be post-doctoral or tenured academics with a demonstrable background of legal scholarship. More senior academics (for example, faculty members tenured for ten years or more) at the discretion of the selection committee may be designated as Senior Global Emile Noël Research Fellows. The deadline is January 15, 2019. More information can be found here.
  8. The Jean Monnet Center at NYU School of Law calls for applications to be appointed as Global Emile Noël Fellows from Practice and Government intended for government officials, judges, officials from international organizations and lawyers in private practice who wish to take a semester or academic year away from their posts to engage in serious scholarship. The deadline is January 15, 2019. More information can be found here.
  9. The Jean Monnet Center at NYU School of Law calls for applications to be appointed as Post-Doctoral Global Emile Noël Fellows, who should be post-doctoral scholars who have attained their doctoral degrees within the past four years and who have not yet secured a tenure-track academic appointment at an institution. The deadline is January 15, 2019. More information can be found here.
  10. The Jean Monnet Center at NYU School of Law calls for applications to be appointed as Visiting Doctoral Researchers, who should be doctoral candidates enrolled in a doctoral degree program at another institution abroad who wish to benefit from spending one year of their research at NYU School of Law. The deadline is February 15, 2019. More information can be found here.

Elsewhere Online

  1. Mugambi Laibut, Popular initiatives to amend Kenya’s constitution: A misdiagnosis of the problem?, ConstitutionNet, 26 October.
  2. Sachin Dhawan, Muslim Divorce and the Constitutional Right to Equality, Blog of the IACL-AIDC, 26 October.
  3. Diego Werneck Arguelhes and Thomaz Pereira, What does a Bolsonaro Presidency mean for Brazilian Law? Reforms from the Far Right (Part I), and What does a Bolsonaro Presidency mean for Brazilian Law?: the Reforms and the Court (Part II), Verfassungsblog, 25 and 24 October.
  4. Adam Feldman, Empirical SCOTUS: State fault lines that might lead to big cases before the Supreme Court, SCOTUS Blog, 24 October.
  5. Letlhogonolo Mokgoroane, Expropriation without compensation: Democratizing South Africa’s economy?, ConstitutionNet, 24 October.
  6. Max Steuer, On the Brink of Joining Poland and Hungary: The Night of Surprises in the Slovak Parliament, Verfassungsblog, 25 October.
  7. Daniel Kelemen and Laurent Pech, Poland’s plan to get rid of independent judges has just hit a roadblock, The Washington Post, 25 October.
  8. William Baude, Were the framers originalists (and does it matter)?, Balkinization, 24 October.
  9. Robert Craig and Gavin Phillipson, Could the ‘Meaningful Vote’ End up in Court?, UK Constitutional Law Blog, 24 October.
  10. Stephen Hopgood, What is the greatest challenge to the future of human rights? We the people are, The Conversation, 23 October.
  11. Michal Ovádek, Constitutional Pluralism between Normative Theory and Empirical Fact, Verfassungsblog, 23 October.
  12. David R. Cameron, With Brexit clock ticking, UK & EU still at odds over future relationship and Irish border, Yale MacMillan Center, 22 October.
  13. Dylan Matthews, Can technocracy be saved? An interview with Cass Sunstein, Vox, 22 October
  14. Pedro Villarreal, The Direct Justiciability of the Right to Health at the IACtHR. What is the Added Value?, Völkrrechtsblog, 22 October.
  15. Hans Hosten and Christian Kaufhold, New Cuban Constitution: Towards a System Without a Single Leader, Verfassungsblog, 22 October.
  16. Francisca Pou Giménez and Ana Micaela Alterio, Book Review: Transformative Constitutionalism in Latin America, Blog of the IACL-AIDC, 22 October.
  17. Tarun Khaitan, Indian Democracy at a Crossroads, Verfassungsblog, 20 October.
  18. Nathan Stephens-Griffin, Anti-fracking activists released on appeal – but criminalisation of nonviolent protest is new norm., The Conversation, 19 October.
  19. David Phinnemore, Extending the Brexit transition period: what does it mean for a deal?, The Conversation, 19 October.
  20. Javier Garcia Oliva, Challenges on the 40th anniversary of the Spanish constitution: Can Spain find a way to accommodate Catalonia?, LSE Blogs, 18 October.
  21. Pieter Cannoot, V. v. Italy: on temporality and transgender persons., Strasbourg Observers, 19 October.
  22. Bob Bauer, The Unintended Consequences of Enshrining Norms in Law, Lawfare Blog, 16 October.
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Published on October 29, 2018
Author:          Filed under: Developments
 

Call for Papers–Conference on “Amending America’s Unwritten Constitution”–Boston, May 16-17, 2019

Boston College Law School

with the support of

The Institute for Liberal Arts

invite submissions for

Conference on “Amending America’s Unwritten Constitution”

Boston College
Newton, Massachusetts
May 16-17, 2019

Submissions are invited from faculty and graduate students for a two-day conference on “Amending America’s Unwritten Constitution,” a timely subject of importance in history, law and politics.

Convened by Richard Albert (Texas), Yaniv Roznai (IDC), and Ryan C. Williams (Boston College), this Conference will be held on the campus of Boston College on Thursday and Friday, May 16-17, 2019.

Subject-Matter of the Conference

Recent constitutional scholarship reveals renewed interest in how unwritten constitutional norms and conventions underlying U.S. constitutional practice can and do change. The conference aims to advance the field by focusing on theoretical, conceptual, and practical questions concerning what it means to “amend” America’s “unwritten constitution” (including what has been called the “small-c constitution”), how the “unwritten constitution” can be amended, and who the relevant constitutional actors are in catalyzing and concretizing these changes.

Structure of the Conference

The conference will be structured around eight keynote lectures in addition to concurrent panels comprised of faculty and graduate students in law, history, political science and other fields of interest.

The conference keynote lectures will address the following themes:

1. What and Where is America’s Unwritten Constitution?
Mark Graber (Maryland)

2. What is an “Amendment”?
Sandy Levinson (Texas)

3. America’s Unwritten Constitution
Miriam Seifter (Wisconsin)

4. Amending Unwritten Constitutional Norms and Conventions
Frederick Schauer (Virginia)

5. Comparative Perspectives on America’s Unwritten Constitution
Mark Tushnet (Harvard)

6. The Role of the Political Branches in Unwritten Amendment
Vik Amar (Illinois)

7. The Role of the Courts in Unwritten Amendment
Carolyn Shapiro (Chicago-Kent)

8. The Role of the People in Unwritten Amendment
Emily Zackin (Johns Hopkins)

In addition to the keynote lectures, the two-day conference will feature concurrent panels featuring papers selected from this Call. The purpose of the panels is to convene groups of faculty and graduate students for a high-level discussion on enduring and emerging questions raised by the conference themes, broadly-defined. The panels will be chaired by the keynote lecturers. These panels will offer participants a combination of rigorous scholarly exchange and constructive guidance on the ideas in the papers. Conference meals will offer an opportunity for more relaxed social interaction.

Eligibility

Submissions for the concurrent panels are invited from faculty and students enrolled in graduate programs from various disciplines (e.g. history, law, political science, sociology). Papers are welcomed on any subject related to the eight keynote topics identified above. Papers may take comparative, doctrinal, empirical, historical, philosophical, sociological, theoretical or other perspectives.

Submission Instructions

Interested scholars should email a CV and abstract no longer than 750 words by November 15, 2018 to tdo@law.utexas.edu on the understanding that the abstract will form the basis of the pre-conference draft to be submitted by April 15, 2019. Scholars should identify their submission with the following subject line: “Conference on Amending America’s Unwritten Constitution” —Abstract Submission.” Please state in your submission to which of the above-mentioned eight themes your abstract suits. All materials should be submitted in PDF.

Notification

Successful applicants will be notified no later than December 1, 2019.

Costs

There is no cost to participate in this Conference. Group meals will be generously provided by Institute for the Liberal Arts at Boston College. Successful applicants are responsible for securing their own funding for all other expenses.

Questions

Please direct inquiries in connection with this Symposium to:

Richard Albert
The University of Texas at Austin
richard.albert@law.utexas.edu

Yaniv Roznai
Interdisciplinary Center (IDC) Herzliya
Email: yaniv.roznai@idc.ac.il

Ryan C. Williams
Boston College Law School
willibit@bc.edu

About the Convenors

Richard Albert is William Stamps Farish Professor of Law at the University of Texas at Austin. He writes about constitutional change, including amendment, replacement, interpretation and revolution. His publications have been translated into Chinese, Hungarian, Portuguese, Russian and Spanish. He is co-editor of the new Oxford Series in Comparative Constitutionalism, co-editor of the Routledge Series on Comparative Constitutional Change, book reviews editor for the American Journal of Comparative Law, co-editor of I-CONnect, chair-elect of the AALS Section on Comparative Law, and a former law clerk to the Chief Justice of Canada. Richard Albert holds degrees from Yale, Oxford and Harvard.

Yaniv Roznai is a Senior Lecturer at the Radzyner School of Law, Interdisciplinary Center (IDC) Herzliya. He holds a PhD and LL.M from The London School of Economics (LSE), and LLB and BA degrees in Law and Government from the IDC.  Yaniv was a Post-Doc Fellow at the University of Haifa and New York University (NYU), and a visiting researcher at Princeton University. He is the Co-Founding Chair of the Israeli Association of Legislation, and former secretary general of the Israeli Association of Public Law. His book, “Unconstitutional Constitutional Amendments – The Limits of Amendment Powers” was published in 2017 with Oxford University Press – Constitutional Theory Series.

Ryan Williams is an Assistant Professor of Law at Boston College Law School.  He writes about constitutional law, focusing particularly on the original understanding and historical development of constitutional provisions. His work has appeared or is forthcoming in The Harvard Law Review, The Yale Law Journal, the Columbia Law Review, the Virginia Law Review, and the Stanford Law Review, among others. Prior to joining Boston College, Ryan was an Associate-in-Law at Columbia Law School and a Sharswood Fellow at the University of Pennsylvania Law School.  He holds a J.D. from Columbia Law School.

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Published on October 28, 2018
Author:          Filed under: Developments
 

Conference Report – Inaugural Conference of the Singapore Chapter of the International Society of Public Law (ICON-S Singapore) – “Constitutional Interpretation In and Outside the Courts”

Maartje de Visser, Associate Professor of Law, Singapore Management University (SMU), with contributions from Jaclyn Neo, Associate Professor of Law, National University of Singapore (NUS)

On 12 October 2018, the Singapore chapter of the International Society of Public Law (ICON-S Singapore) organized a workshop on ‘Constitutional Interpretation In and Outside the Courts’ to launch the chapter. Hosted by the Singapore Management University School of Law, and with the support of the National University of Singapore’s Centre for Asian Legal Studies, the conference was convened by the Singapore chapter’s founding co-chairs Associate Professor Jaclyn L. Neo (National University of Singapore, Faculty of Law) and Associate Professor Maartje de Visser (Singapore Management University School of Law).

The full-day Workshop brought together participants from various academic and professional backgrounds. Speakers included scholars from law and the social sciences, well-known constitutional lawyers, and representatives of the Attorney-General’s Chambers.

The workshop started off with a Welcome Address by the founding co-chairs. They introduced the Chapter and highlighted core aspects of its governing framework, to ensure that prospective members have a solid understanding of the Chapter’s aims, values and their rights and obligations. They proceeded to explain the choice for the theme for the workshop, pointing to the need to move beyond the court-centric approach that has typically characterized local scholarly discourse on constitutional interpretation to-date. While the Singapore judiciary has an important role in establishing the meaning  of constitutional provisions, other players too contribute to shared understandings of the constitution. The co-chairs accordingly advocated the adoption of a pluralist framework that also captures how the legislature, executive and society at large debate constitutional questions.

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Published on October 26, 2018
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I-CONnect Invitation — Books for Review

Richard Albert, William Stamps Farish Professor of Law, The University of Texas at Austin

Our community has benefited from the many critical, constructive, and quite useful book reviews our contributors have published here at I-CONnect. We will continue to commission reviews from specific scholars whose subject-matter expertise makes them particularly well-situated to comment on a given book.

Beginning today we will also give our readers the opportunity to express an interest in reviewing certain books. Here, below, is the first round of books available for review here at I-CONnect. Please email my colleague Trish Do at tdo[at]law.utexas.edu if you would like to review one of these books. A confirmation will follow. Preference will be given to first-time I-CONnect contributors.

  1. Rex Ahdar, Research Handbook on Law and Religion (Edward Elgar 2018)
  2. Nick W. Barber, The Principles of Constitutionalism (Oxford 2018)
  3. Colin Crawford & Daniel Bonilla Maldonado, Constitutionalism in the Americas (Edward Elgar 2018)
  4. Jon Elster, Roberto Gargarella, Vatsal Naresh & Bjorn Erik Rasch, Constituent Assemblies (Cambridge 2018)
  5. Tom Ginsburg & Aziz Huq, How to Save a Constitutional Democracy (Chicago 2018)
  6. Mark Graber, Sanford Levinson & Mark Tushnet, Constitutional Democracy in Crisis? (Oxford 2018)
  7. Theunis Roux, The Politico-Legal Dynamics of Judicial Review (Cambridge 2018)
  8. Robert Schuetze, Globalisation and Governance: International Problems, European Solutions (Cambridge 2018)
  9. Catherine Valcke, Comparing Law: Comparative Law as Reconstruction of Collective Commitments (Cambridge 2018)

A photo of the book covers appears below.

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Published on October 25, 2018
Author:          Filed under: Developments
 

López Obrador’s Fourth Transformation of Mexico: Four Areas of Scholarly Inquiry

[Editor’s note: This is one of our biweekly I-CONnect columns. Columns, while scholarly in accordance with the tone of the blog and about the same length as a normal blog post, are a bit more “op-ed” in nature than standard posts. For more information about our four columnists for 2018, see here.]

Francisca Pou Giménez, ITAM, Mexico City

Last July, Andrés Manuel López Obrador (AMLO) won the Mexican presidential election with a historic, landslide victory. Not only did he get an amazing 53% of the vote, but his political party (Morena) and its allies secured 308 Deputies out of 500, and 69 Senators out of 128, therefore enjoying absolute majorities in both Chambers of Congress.[1] The situation at the State level is more nuanced, since only 9 elections were celebrated in July, and the territorial presence of Morena is highly uneven.[2]

Although AMLO led electoral polls all the way long, comfortably ahead of the candidate of the conservative party (PAN), and widely ahead of the candidate of the party that was in power from 2012 and for seven decades in the 20th century (PRI), the size of his victory was unexpected. As it has come to be felt and agreed upon by analysts and citizens alike, the July election was a sort of general plebiscite on the status quo, whose results must be read as a clear and powerful call for the radical transformation of the country. AMLO was voted by its traditional (left) constituencies, but also by millions of people that were not prepared to support parties that have occupied the Presidency in recent times, with a terrible record in terms of violence, death, corruption and inequality. AMLO centered his campaign in the rejection of the “power mafia”, the fight against corruption, the diminution of privilege, and the prioritization of the needs of the poor. With the support of the people —he has repeated time and again— he will push forward Mexico’s “Fourth Transformation” (the previous ones being the Independence movement at the beginnings of the 19th century, Benito Juárez’s Reform movement in the second half of the 19th century, and the Mexican Revolution at the beginning of the 20th century).[3]

Four months have passed since July. During this transition period, set to end on December 1 on his finally taking office, the President-elect has already advanced many initiatives, some of them more controversial than others. He has prepared, for instance, the integration of government teams, with far more women than earlier governments but also with unmistakable representatives of old Mexican politics; he received approval in Congress of a bill that caps the salaries of high officials so that they do not surpass the (relatively modest) salary of the President; he has organized an informal popular consultation on the continuation or cancellation of the highly controversial construction of a new international airport in an ecologically sensitive area; and he has advanced some prospective measures in the areas that pose the more intractable challenges –the gaining of territorial control, the reduction of organized crime, the limitation of total impunity, and ubiquitous violence. While AMLO has emphasized the power of new beginnings and the potential of leading by example, it is by now clear that the seriousness of the country’s condition will make things far more difficult and slow than originally anticipated.[4]

In what follows, rather than focusing on one or another specific initiative, I will briefly identify four general areas scholars should keep an eye on in the years to come. In my view, Mexico’s Fourth Transformation will no doubt offer developments relevant to at least the following fields: forms of constitutional change, anti-corruption reform, authoritarianism/populism/democracy inquiries, and transitional justice.

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Published on October 24, 2018
Author:          Filed under: Analysis