Blog of the International Journal of Constitutional Law

What’s New in Public Law

Vicente F. Benítez R., JSD candidate at NYU School of Law and Constitutional Law Professor at Universidad de La Sabana

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 U.S. Supreme Court heard a case that discusses the existence of constitutional limits to the power to redraw electoral districts in the states of North Carolina and Maryland.
  2. Judge Donal John O’Donnell of the Supreme Court of Ireland, concluded that a Fianna Fáil male member has standing to challenge the constitutionality of some provisions of the Electoral Act 1997 which governs female representation in elections.
  3. The Supreme Court of India declined to hear a petition that requested the deportation of Indian Muslims to Pakistan.      
  4. The Supreme Court of Myanmar is set to hear an appeal filed by two jailed Reuters reporters who were sentenced to serve seven years in prison.
  5. The Constitutional Court of Poland held that the appointment of the National Judicial Council’s members by the Parliament is compatible with the Constitution.
  6. The Supreme Court of Pakistan granted bail, on medical grounds, to convicted former president Nawaz Sharif.
  7. The Supreme Court of Canada emphasized that making an accused person wait in jail before trial should be the exception, not the rule.
  8. The U.S. Supreme Court halted the execution of a Buddhist man who was denied the presence of his spiritual adviser in the death chamber.    

In the News

  1. In the U.S., special counsel Robert Mueller submitted to Attorney General William Bar a report that contains his findings on the investigation into the Russian attack on the 2016 presidential election. The Justice Department’s Summary of the report can be read here.
  2. The Parliament of Egypt requested a series of amendments to the Constitution (one of them seeks to extend the presidential term in office). A referendum will follow, should these proposals be passed by a 2/3 parliamentary majority.
  3. U.S. Senator Marco Rubio plans to propose a constitutional amendment in order to establish, in the constitutional text, a fixed number of nine seats for the Supreme Court. At the same time, some Democrats are calling for abolishing the Electoral College.     
  4. The President of Kazakhstan, Kassym-Jomart Tokayev, signed a decree to rename the city of Astana to Nur-Sultan.
  5. Following a Venice Commission’s report, the government of Malta announced that it will introduce some amendments to the Constitution regarding –among others– the Attorney General’s powers as well as the rules concerning the appointment and removal of the members of the judiciary.
  6. The President of the U.S., Donald Trump, signed a proclamation recognizing Israel’s sovereignty over the Golan Heights. 
  7. The Prime Minister of Romania, Viorica Dancila, declared that Bucharest plans to move its embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.  
  8. The President of Honduras, Juan Orlando Hernandez, called Jerusalem the capital of Israel and announced that Honduras is planning to open a trade office there.  
  9. The European Union and the U.K. announced that their respective stances regarding the Golan Heights remain unchanged.  
  10. Over one million people rallied in central London to ask for a new referendum on the Brexit question.
  11. The U.K. House of Commons rejected, in an indicative vote, all eight Brexit proposed options.  
  12. The Parliament of Lithuania passed a constitutional amendment which grants individual access to the Constitutional Court via constitutional complaint. The Parliament also approved a law that allows the revision of already-in-place life sentences.   
  13. The President of the UK Supreme Court, Lady Hale, said that at least half of the UK’s judges should be women.
  14. The UN welcomed the Rohingya’s relocation plan proposed by the government of Bangladesh.
  15. The Prime Minister of New Zealand, Jacinda Ardern, announced a Royal Commission of Inquiry into the Christchurch mosques terror attack.
  16. The President of Mexico, Andres Lopez Obrador, asked Spain and the Vatican to apologize for the abuses committed during the conquest of the Americas occurred five centuries ago.  
  17. Several South American Presidents convened in Chile to announce the creation of the new regional bloc ‘Prosur’.  
  18. The Premier of Quebec, François Legault, defended the use of the so-called ‘notwithstanding clause’ to shield a bill banning the use of religious symbols in public spaces by certain authority figures such as teachers.  
  19. The Attorney General of Switzerland indicted Liberian former rebel leader Alieu Kosiah for war crimes
  20. The Algerian Army Chief, Gaid Salah, called on President Abdelaziz Bouteflika to step down.
  21. The Minister for Justice and Equality of Ireland, Charles Flanagan, published the text of the upcoming referendum that aims to modify the Constitution to ease the requirements to get a divorce.
  22. In the wake of allegations of electoral irregularities and amidst the current military-led government, seven pro-democracy parties in Thailand forged a coalition which is large enough to claim parliamentary majority.
  23. The Chamber of Deputies in Brazil passed a bill that grants Congress-members more control over the federal budget.
  24. The Prime Minister of Pakistan, Imran Khan, announced the introduction of several measures to combat poverty. One of them entails a constitutional amendment whose purpose is to move article 38(d) –that regulates the provision of basic necessities of life– from the “Principles of Policy” section into the “Fundamental Rights” section.   
  25. The deputy commander-in-chief of the Myanmar military, Vice Senior General Soe Win, warned that the enactment of constitutional amendments through popular power rather than by legal means would disrupt the country’s stability.
  26. The General Comptroller of Venezuela, Elvis Amoroso, barred opposition leader (and interim president according to many countries) Juan Guaidó from holding public office for 15 years.
  27. The European Parliament voted to ban single-use plastics
  28. The President of North Macedonia, Gjorge Ivanov, refused to sign several bills passed by the Parliament, showing his opposition to the name-change deal signed between his country and Greece.
  29. The Prime Minister of Canada, Justin Trudeau, condemned the leak of information pertaining to a possible appointment to the Supreme Court. Meanwhile, conservatives asked the federal judicial affairs commissioner to investigate this issue.         

New Scholarship

  1. Alex Schwartz, International Judges on Constitutional Courts: Cautionary Evidence from Post-Conflict Bosnia, Law and Social Inquiry (2019) (questioning the value of hybrid courts in light of the case study of the Constitutional Court of Bosnia-Herzegovina, and claiming that its foreign judges have not provided a reliable counterbalance to ethnographical divisions on the Court and have probably affected the Court’s tenuous authority)
  2. David Landau, Yaniv Roznai & Rosalind Dixon, From an unconstitutional constitutional amendment to an unconstitutional constitution? Lessons from Honduras, Global Constitutionalism (2019) (examining the possibility of ‘unconstitutional constitutions’ or the ‘unconstitutionality of original constitutional provisions’ using Honduras as case study)
  3. Tom Gerald Daly, Democratic Decay: Conceptualising an Emerging Research Field, Hague Journal on the Rule of Law (2019) (exploring the advantages of conceptualizing, as a research field, the scattered cross-disciplinary literature on the creeping deterioration of democratic rule worldwide)
  4. Nicole Scicluna & Stefan Auer, From the rule of law to the rule of rules: technocracy and the crisis of EU governance, West European Politics, (2019) (examining two trends emerging from the eurozone crisis that diminish the quality of democracy in the EU and its member states: reliance on non-majoritarian institutions and an emphasis on coercive enforcement)
  5. David Law & Hsiang-Yang Hsieh, Judicial Review of Constitutional Amendments: Taiwan (forthcoming 2019 ) (arguing that “hard” review, “soft” review, and judicial review of constitutional amendments can and should all be arrayed along the same spectrum of judicial power, and questioning whether the concept of “dialogic” judicial review is especially meaningful using Taiwan as a case study)
  6. Núria Reguart-Segarra, Business, Indigenous Peoples’ Rights and Security in the Case Law of the Inter-American Court of Human Rights, Business and Human Rights Journal (2019) (analyzing, in light of the interrelation between business, human rights and security, the Inter-American Court of Human Rights’ case law on indigenous property rights)
  7. Tarunabh Khaitan, Constitutional Directives: Morally‐Committed Political Constitutionalism, Modern Law Review (2019) (presenting constitutional directives as obligatory telic norms, addressed primarily to the political state, and understanding them as a key tool to realize a morally‐committed conception of political constitutionalism.)
  8. Nimer Sultany, Arab constitutionalism and the formalism of authoritarian constitutionalism, (forthcoming 2019) (challenging different manifestations of a “formalist” approach to constitutional theory, and arguing that some categories used to understand Arab constitutions, are neither analytically illuminating nor descriptively informative)

Calls for Papers and Announcements

  1. Católica Law Review welcomes the submission of articles in the field of Public Law from all legal scholars and practitioners for the January issue of 2020. The deadline for applications is September 30, 2019.
  2. KU Leuven offers scholarships to researchers and alumni from the Global South to conduct research for up to 90 days in Belgium. Applications must be submitted by May 10, 2019. 
  3. The African Court on Human and Peoples’ Rights, the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights, and the African Committee of Experts on the Rights and Welfare of the Child call for papers for the third volume of the African Human Rights Yearbook (AHRY). Abstracts should be submitted before or by 30 April 2019
  4. The ICON-S Colombian Chapter calls for proposals for its forthcoming Second National Conference on ‘Law, Politics and Deliberation’ to be held on October 24-25, 2019 in Manizales. Interested scholars can submit their proposals to on or before July 15, 2019.
  5. The Editors of the Melbourne Journal of International Law (‘MJIL’) invite submissions on areas of interest in international law for volume 20(2), to be published in December 2019. Contributions must be submitted by July 1, 2019.   
  6. The European University Institute, University of Florence and Bocconi University convene the Inaugural Conference on “Constitutional Challenges in the Algorithmic Society”. This Conference is organized in the framework of the IACL Research Group “Algorithmic State, Society and Market – Constitutional Dimensions”, and will take place on May 9-11, 2019 in Florence.
  7. The Institute for Global Law and Policy (IGLP) at Harvard Law School calls for applicants who are interested to participate in its Visiting Researcher Program. The deadline for applications is April 15, 2019.
  8. The Turkish Society of General Theory of State organizes a conference on “Transformation of the Concept of the State and Rethinking ‘Allgemeine Staatslehre’ in German and Turkish Perspectives” at Galatasaray University, Istanbul on May 3rd, 2019 in cooperation with Friedrich Ebert Stiftung. For more information about the Conference, click here.    

Elsewhere Online

  1. Meg Russell, How did parliament get into this Brexit mess, and how can it get out? The Constitution Unit
  2. Nicolás Carrillo-Santarelli, An Analysis of the Legal Obligations of the ELN Guerrilla and Third States in the Aftermath of the Attack Against a Colombian Police Academy (Part I), OpinioJuris
  3. Anne Applebaum, Theresa May isn’t the adult in the room. She’s part of the problem, The Washington Post
  4. Philippe LeDoux, Inclusive Marriage for Taiwan, JURIST
  5. Mireia Grau Creus, States Reactions in Turbulent Times and the Erosion of the Rule of Law: The Trial of the Catalan Pro-Independence Leaders, IACL-AIDC Blog
  6. Agne Limantė, Lithuania Introduces Individual Constitutional Complaint, Verfassungsblog
  7. Adam Ratzlaff, Why cuts to affirmative action programs will undermine Brazil’s geopolitical ambitions, Global Americans
  8. Raul Sanchez Urribarri, Australia’s Recognition of Juan Guaidó as Venezuela’s Interim President, Australian Institute of International Affairs
  9. Stephen Coutts, Bold and Thoughtful: The Court of Justice Intervenes in Nationality Law Case C-221/17 TJEBBES, European Law Blog
  10. Lindsay Aqui, How the story of Britain and Europe began: Was Brexit inevitable? LSE Brexit Blog
  11. Michael Wines, Will the Supreme Court End Gerrymandering? Arguments Begin This Week, The New York Times
  12. Neil Siegel, The Anti-Constitutionality of Court-Packing, Balkinization
  13. Jaakko Husa, Merging Comparative Law and Legal History? Thesis and Scepticism in Finland, IACL-AIDC Blog
  14. Kevin Jon Heller, Judge Ozaki Must Resign — Or Be Removed, OpinioJuris


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