Blog of the International Journal of Constitutional Law

What’s New in Public Law

Patrick Yingling, Reed Smith LLP

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 UK High Court of Justice ruled that the UK government cannot enact Article 50 to leave the EU without the approval of Parliament.
  2. Germany’s Federal Constitutional Court announced that it will pronounce its judgment on the prohibition of the far-right wing National Democratic Party on January 17, 2017.
  3. Pakistan’s Supreme Court blocked the execution of a murder convict who had been diagnosed with paranoid schizophrenia in 2012.
  4. The High Court of Bombay upheld the validity of section 56 of the Civil Procedure Code that prohibits arrest or detention of a woman in execution of a decree for payment of money.
  5. The Palestinian Constitutional Court ruled that President Mahmoud Abbas can revoke the parliamentary immunity of lawmakers, a move that effectively allows him to sideline rivals.

In the News

  1. The justice minister of South Africa submitted a bill to parliament seeking withdrawal from the International Criminal Court.
  2. Taiwan may soon become Asia’s first country to acknowledge marriage among same sex individuals.
  3. Several South Sudanese organizations co-authored a letter to the African Union Commission concerning the creation of the Hybrid Court for South Sudan.
  4. The head of the legislative committee of Hungary’s Parliament announced that the parliament will vote on the seventh amendment to the country’s constitution, which would prevent the “forced settlement” of migrants.
  5. Voters in the Ivory Coast approved a new constitution during a weekend referendum.
  6. Kyrgyzstan’s parliament approved plans to hold a referendum on reforms to the constitution that would strengthen the powers of the prime minister.
  7. Georgia’s ruling party decisively won a second round of voting, giving it more than three quarters of seats in parliament, enough to change the constitution if it desires to do so.
  8. Australia’s health minister stated that recent changes in the country’s laws give patients and doctors access to a safe, reliable, and legal source of cannabis for medicinal use.
  9. Policymakers and scientists from 24 nations and the European Union unanimously agreed to create a marine reserve almost as large as Alaska in the Ross Sea off the coast of Antarctica.

New Scholarship

  1. Ran Hirschl, Comparative Matters: Response to Interlocutors, 96 Boston University Law Review 1393 (2016) (charting the intellectual history and analytical underpinnings of comparative constitutional inquiry, probing the various types, aims, and methodologies of engagement with the constitutive laws of others through the ages, and exploring how and why comparative constitutional inquiry has been and ought to be pursued by academics and jurists worldwide)
  2. Adam S. Chilton and Mila Versteeg, Rights Without Resources: The Impact of Constitutional Social Rights on Social Spending, Virginia Law and Economics Research Paper No. 2016-20, University of Chicago Coase-Sandor Institute for Law & Economics Research Paper No. 781, U of Chicago, Public Law Working Paper No. 598 (2016) (addressing whether the inclusion of rights in constitutions actually changes how governments provide social services to their citizens by studying the effect of adopting the constitutional right to education and healthcare on government spending)
  3. Eric Chung, The Judicial Enforceability and Legal Effects of Treaty Reservations, Understandings, and Declarations, Yale Law Journal (2016) (providing an original review of the jurisprudence of RUDs in U.S. and international courts)
  4. Andrew M. Siegel, Constitutional Theory, Constitutional Culture, 18 University of Pennsylvania Journal of Constitutional Law 1068 (2016) (proposing a new paradigm for thinking about the process through which we make constitutional law, one that understands that almost all of our institutional arrangements, practices, norms, and habits of thought are nominal, historically contingent, and ever-evolving, and that aims to treat them as a complicated, interlocking “constitutional culture”)
  5. Vanessa MacDonnell, A Theory of Quasi-Constitutional Legislation, Osgoode Hall Law Journal (2016) (arguing that quasi-constitutional legislation – or more accurately, some provisions in quasi-constitutional legislation – should be understood as implementing constitutional imperatives)
  6. Hillary C. Webb, ‘People Don’t Forget’: The Necessity of Legislative Guidance in Implementing a U.S. Right to Be Forgotten, George Washington Law Review (2016) (arguing that U.S. policymakers should use the spirit of the EU’s decision in Google Spain to implement an American right to be forgotten — consistent with the U.S. Constitution — in order to regulate the currently unregulated discretion of Google and other search engines in removing search results)
  7. Daniel J. Smith and Rania A. Al-Bawwab, The Constitutional Architecture of Constraint: Checking the Ambition of the Venetian Patriciate (2016) (arguing that the origins of Venetian prosperity were institutional and that, in particular, unique formal and informal constitutional constraints, including the dispersion of power through overlapping committees, complex – and anonymous – election procedures, strict term limits, and ducal oaths of office, operated to check the ambition of the patriciate qua patriciate)
  8. Duncan Fairgrieve, Comparative Law in Practice (2016) (drawing extensively upon English, French, and European law to explore how the law of contract of Jersey, Channel Islands, has been influence by both civil law and common law sources)
  9. Joanne Blennerhassett, A Comparative Examination of Multi-Party Actions (2016) (addressing the phenomenon of mass harm and how it may be resolved through collective redress and examining how such redress may be achieved through mechanisms such as multi-party actions)

Calls for Papers and Announcements

  1. Mark A. Graber, Jacob A France Professor of Constitutionalism at the University of Maryland Francis King Carey School of Law, has been named a University System of Maryland Regents Professor. Graber is one of just seven Regents Professors in the history of the University System of Maryland and the only University of Maryland, Baltimore faculty member to hold the title.
  2. The Arab Association of Constitutional Law and the Tunisian Association of Constitutional Law, with the support of the “Islamic Legal Studies Program: Law and Social Change” at Harvard Law School, will be holding an international conference in Tunisia on March 24-25, 2017.  The conference title will be: “Religion and the State.” The deadline for submitting an abstract is November 18, 2016.  
  3. The University of Michigan Law School will be hosting its Third Annual Young Scholars’ Conference on March 31 – April 1, 2017. The deadline for abstract submissions is December 31, 2016.
  4. The Centre for Law and Society in a Global Context (CLSGC) is sponsoring a workshop on Comparative History of Legal Reasoning at Queen Mary University of London on December 7, 2016.
  5. Chinese (Taiwan) Society of International Law – Chinese (Taiwan) Branch of the International Law Association (ILA), in partnership with the Law in the Pacific Rim Region Interest Group of the American Society of International Law (ASIL) and the Research Center for International Legal Studies, National Chengchi University will be hosting a research forum on “The Geopolitics of International Law: Contemporary Challenges for the Asia-Pacific” on May 19-20, 2017 in Taipei, Taiwan.

Elsewhere Online

  1. Margarita Meldon, Kyrgyzstan’s Constitutional Referendum: Steering populism toward securing vested interests?, ConstitutionNet
  2. Rodger Owiso, South Africa’s intention to withdraw from the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court: Time to seriously consider an African alternative?, AfricLaw
  3. Jo Eric Khushal Murkens, The High Court’s Brexit Decision: A Lesson in Constitutional Law for the UK Government, Verfassungsblog
  4. Jean Leclair, Brexit and the Unwritten Constitutional Principle of Democracy: A Canadian Perspective, UK Constitutional Law Association
  5. Semih Idiz, Is Erdogan really serious about bringing back death penalty?, The Monitor


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