Selective rationality? Argumentation of the Constitutional Court of the Russian Federation on the terms of office of the President in the mirror of cognitive science

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Author: Alexandra Troitskaya

DOI: 10.21128/1812-7126-2021-1-84-99

Keywords: amendments to the constitution; argumentative practice; Constitutional Court of Russia; rationality; the term of office of the president


The Decision (Zaklyuchenie) of the Constitutional Court of the Russian Federation on the constitutionality of the constitutional amendments played a significant role for the entry into force of the amendments to the Constitution of the Russian Federation adopted in 2020. For this reason, and in connection with the fact that many of the novels raise questions precisely from the point of view of their compliance with Chapters 1, 2 and 9 of the Russian Constitution, the positions formulated in the Decision attract serious attention. The article analyzes the arguments of the Court on one of the significant innovations – the possibility of being elected to the post of President of Russia by a person who held or holds this position at the time the amendment entered into force, without taking into account the previous terms. This reasoning is placed in the context of the demands of rationality in constitutional law. The article is aimed at implementing bona fide intentions related to confirming the subjectivity of the body of constitutional review and identifying ways to improve its argumentation. The activities of the constitutional court are presented in the article as part of reasonable foresight, which implies the creation of guarantees for the case of deviation from constitutional values. The rationality of its argumentation is understood as the sum of requirements connecting in a certain way 1) formal logic and 2) substantive reasonableness, determined by the value choice made in the constitution. It is demonstrated that the rationality of the argumentation formulated in the Decision of the Constitutional Court on the problem of the term of office of the head of state can be questioned from these points of view and, for this reason, cause associations with cognitive distortions (such as bias in the selection of initial premises for argumentation; incomplete study of scenarios reflecting the consequences of a reviewed amendment; framing; logical circle, etc.). At the same time, the article reveals the limitations of the “naive” cognitive approach, which is insufficient for working with the argumentation of the body of constitutional review and which actualizes additional consideration of the political and legal context of decision-making by this body.

About the author: Alexandra Troitskaya – Doctor of Sciences in Law, Associate Professor of the Constitutional and Municipal Law Department, Faculty of Law at Lomonosov Moscow State University, Moscow, Russia.

Citation: Troitskaya A. (2021) Selektivnaya ratsional'nost’? Argumentatsiya Konstitutsionnogo Suda RF o srokakh polnomochiy Prezidenta v zerkale kognitivistiki [Selective rationality? Argumentation of the Constitutional Court of the Russian Federation on the terms of office of the President in the mirror of cognitive science]. Sravnitel'noe konstitutsionnoe obozrenie, vol.30, no.1, pp.84–99. (In Russian).


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