Interpretations of the Constitution as Its Actual Amendments

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Author: Mikhail Krasnov

Keywords: constitutional amendment; interpretations of the Constitution; judicial activism; the Constitutional Court; the legal constraints for interpretation


The article seeks to figure out if the so-called ‘interpretations’ of the Constitution by the Constitutional Court are actually aimed at changing and amending the Constitution. The author claims that if such a powerful agency releases an actual constitutional amendment, it should be perceived negatively. Not only it exceeds the authority of the Constitutional Court, but, doing so, the Court, which is established to strictly guard the Constitution, actually infringes upon the competence of the constitutive power. Moreover, while the Court can challenge the constitutionality of any amendment proposed by the Parliament, its own interpretations of the Constitution are final and cannot be judged. To address the stated issue, the article investigates the actual interpretations of the Constitution given by the Constitutional Court. Included in the analysis are 13 interpretation of the Constitution by the Constitutional Court made since 23 March 1995. Along with them, the article takes into account 8 court orders which reasonably deny the requests for interpretation – either because of an improper subject or due to the lack of any actual indeterminacy to be resolved. Prior to analyzing these decisions, the article also reviews the legal constraints for interpretation of the Constitution stated by law and the decisions of the Constitutional Court. The author provides the reader with the opportunity to assess whether the decisions of the Constitutional Court contain an actual amendment, which are presented in a chart which in a nutshell shows all these decisions. According to the author, among such decisions there are three which indeed are actual constitutional amendments, and one of which does not correspond to some fundamentals of the existing constitutional system.

About the author: Mikhail Krasnov – Doctor of Sciences in Law, Tenured Professor, Higher School of Economics, Moscow, Russia.

Citation: Krasnov M. (2016) Tolkovaniya Konstitutsii kak eyo fakticheskie popravki [Interpretations of the Constitution as Its Actual Amendments]. Sravnitel’noe konstitutsionnoe obozrenie, no. 1, pp. 77–91. (In Russian).


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