Available in Russian
Authors: David Landau, Rosalind Dixon
Keywords: constitutional comparativism in justice; constitutional control; protecting democracy; unconstitutional change of the Constitution
A deep tension exists in many parts of the world between commitments to democracy and procedures for constitutional amendment. Amendments are frequently passed that follow formal democratic procedures but are aimed at achieving anti-democratic or “abusive” constitutional aims – i. e., to help powerful presidents extend their term in office, to remove parliamentary or federalism-based checks on executive power, and to narrow or suspend basic human rights protections. Limiting a power of constitutional amendment, therefore, can have clear democratic benefits. One way to do this is via a judicially enforceable doctrine of “unconstitutional constitutional amendment.” While such a doctrine may not be a complete solution to anti-democratic uses of constitutional amendment powers, it can create an additional hurdle to change. But such a doctrine should be approached with caution from a democratic perspective, because it can also create a significant roadblock to the legitimate use of amendment procedures as a means of overriding courts decisions deemed unreasonable or unacceptable by a majority of citizens. In order to promote democracy rather than undermine it, any doctrine of unconstitutional constitutional amendment must be limited in scope. This article argues that because threats to a democratic order are so varied, and can be altered or staged by would-be authoritarian actors, limiting the doctrine to a narrow set of institutional provisions or principles defined ex ante is unlikely to be a stable solution. Instead, courts must rely on a broader doctrine that is nonetheless limited to constitutional amendments that clearly pose a substantial threat to core democratic values. This article also argues that an effective way to limit the use of such a doctrine is by tying its use to transnational constitutional norms. Engagement with transnational constitutional law will help to limit both the kinds of principles courts define as fundamental and the sorts of institutional changes that are alleged to pose a substantial threat to those principles. The article shows how engagement with transnational materials can serve as a workable check on a doctrine of unconstitutional constitutional amendment, helping to separate cases where the doctrine must be deployed to defend democracy from cases where its use is unnecessary. Key words: unconstitutional constitutional amendment, protection of democracy, constitutional review, comparative method in constitutional justice.
About the authors: Rosalind Dixon – Professor of Law, University of New South Wales, Faculty of Law; David Landau – Mason Ladd Professor and Associate Dean for International Programs, Florida State University College of Law.
Citation: Dixon R., Landau D. (2016) Transnatsional'nyy konstitutsionalism i ogranichennaya doktrina nekonstitutsionnogo ismeneniya konstitutsii [Transnational Constitutionalism and a Limited Doctrine of Unconstitutional Constitutional Amendment]. Sravnitel'noe konstitutsionnoe obozrenie, no. 2, pp. 32–63. (In Russian).
Ackerman B. (2000) The New Separation of Powers. Harvard Law Review, vol. 113, no. 3, pp. 633–729.
Aikman C. C. (1978) The Debate on the Amendment of the Indian Constitution. Victoria University of Wellington Law Review, vol. 9, pp. 357.
Albert R. (2009) The Fusion of Presidentialism and Parliamentarism. American Journal of Comparative Law, vol. 57, no. 3, pp. 531–577.
Albert R. (2010) Constitutional Handcuffs. Arizona State Law Journal, vol. 42, no. 3, pp. 663–715.
Albert R. (2013) The Expressive Function of Constitutional Amendment Rules. McGill Law Journal, vol. 59, no. 2, pp. 225–281.
Alford R. P. (2005) In Search of a Theory for Constitutional Comparativism. U.C.L.A. Law Review, vol. 52, no. 3, pp. 639–714.
Arato A. (2010) Post-Sovereign Constitution-Making in Hungary: After Success, Partial Failure, Now What? South African Journal on Human Rights, vol. 26, no. 1, pp. 19–44.
Austin G. (1999) Working a Democratic Constitution: A History of the Indian Experience, New Delhi; New York: Oxford University Press.
Barak A. (2011) Unconstitutional Constitutional Amendments. Israel Law Review, vol. 44, no. 3, pp. 321–341.
Bäuerle M., Dann P., Wallrabenstein A. (eds.) (2013) Demokratie-Perspektiven: Festschrift für Brun-Otto Bryde zum 70. Geburtstag, Tübingen: Mohr Siebeck, 2013.
Benhabib S. (2013) Turkey's Authoritarian Turn. New York Times, 3 June, p. A25.
Bernal C. (2013) Unconstitutional Constitutional Amendments in the Case Study of Colombia: An Analysis of the Justification and Meaning of the Constitutional Replacement Doctrine. International Journal of Constitutional Law, vol. 11, no. 2, pp. 339–357.
Bhandari M. K. (1993) Basic Structure of the Indian Constitution. New Delhi: Deep & Deep.
Bushnell D. (1993) The Making of Modern Colombia: A Nation in Spite of Itself. Berkeley: University of California Press.
Calleron-Alarson J. C. (2009) The Unfinished Transition to Democracy in Latin America. New York: Routledge.
Chang W.-Ch., Rong-Yeh J. (2013) Judges as Discursive Agent: The Use of Foreign Precedents by the Constitutional Court of Taiwan. In: Groppi T., Ponthoreau M.-C. (eds.) The Use of Foreign Precedents by Constitutional Judges, Oxford; Portland, OR: Hart Publishing, pp. 373–392.
Choudhry S. (1999) Globalization in Search of Justification: Toward a Theory of Comparative Constitutional Interpretation. Indiana Law Journal, vol. 74, no. 3, pp. 819–892.
Chu Y.-H. (2001) Democratic Consolidation in the Post-KMT Era: The Challenge of Governance. In: Alagappa M. (ed.) Taiwan's Presidential Politics: Democratization and Cross-Strait Relations in the Twenty-first Century, Armonk, NY : M. E. Sharpe, pp. 88–115.
Colon-Rios J. (2013) Beyond Parliamentary Sovereignty and Judicial Supremacy: The Doctrine of Implicit Limits to Constitutional Reform in Latin America. Victoria University Wellington Law Review, vol. 44, no. 3–4, pp. 521–534.
Copper J. F. (2005) Consolidating Taiwan's Democracy, Lanham, MD: University Press of America.
Dasgupta J. (1978) A Season of Caesars: Emergency Regimes and Development in Politics in Asia. Asian Survey, vol. 18, no. 4, pp. 315–349.
Dixon R. (2011) Constitutional Amendment Rules: A Comparative Perspective. In: Ginsburg T., Dixon R. (eds.) Comparative Constitutional Law, Cheltenham; Northampton, MA: Edward Elgar, pp. 96–111.
Dixon R., Jackson V. C. (2013) Constitutions Inside Out: Outsider Interventions in Domestic Constitutional Contests. Wake Forest Law Review, vol. 48, no. 1, pp. 149–209.
Gadbois G. H. (1968) Indian Supreme Court Judges: A Portrait. Law and Society Review, vol. 3, no. 2–3, pp. 317–336.
Gandhi P. (2010) Basic Structure and Ordinary Laws (Analysis of the Election Case & the Coelho Case). Indian Journal of Constitutional Law, vol. 4, pp. 47–70.
Gardbaum S. (2001) The New Commonwealth Model of Constitutionalism. American Journal of Comparative Law, vol. 49, no. 4, pp. 707–760.
Garlicki L., Garlicka Z. (2011) External Review of Constitutional Amendments? International Law as a Norm of Reference. Israel Law Review, vol. 44, no. 3, pp. 343–368.
Ginsburg T. (2003) Judicial Review in New Democracies: Constitutional Courts in Asian Cases, Cambridge; New York: Cambridge University Press.
Hübner M. C. (2005) Judicial Review of Constitutional Amendments in the Brazilian Supreme Court. Florida Journal of International Law, vol. 17, no. 3, pp. 449–461.
Issacharoff S. (2011) Constitutional Courts and Democratic Hedging. Georgetown Law Journal, vol. 99, no. 4, pp. 961–1012.
Issacharoff S. (2007) Fragile Democracies. Harvard Law Review, vol. 120, no. 6, pp. 1405–1467.
Jackson V. C. (2009) Constitutional Engagement in a Transnational Era, Oxford: Oxford University Press.
Jackson V. C. (2001) Narratives of Federalism: Of Continuities and Comparative Constitutional Experience. Duke Law Journal, vol. 51, no. 1, pp. 223– 287.
Jackson V. C. (2005) The Supreme Court, 2004 Term–Comment: Constitutional Comparisons: Convergence, Resistance, Engagement. Harvard Law Review, vol. 119, no. 1, pp. 109–128.
Jackson V. C. (2015) The (Myth of Un)amendability of the US Constitution and the Democratic Component of Constitutionalism. International Journal of Constitutional Law, vol. 13, no. 3, pp. 575–605.
Jackson V. C. (2013) Unconstitutional Constitutional Amendment: A Window on Constitutional Theory and Transnational Constitutionalism. In: Bäuerle M., Dann P., Wallrabenstein A. (eds.) Demokratie-Perspektiven: Festschrift für Brun-Otto Bryde zum 70. Geburtstag, Tübingen: Mohr Siebeck, pp. 47–76.
Jacobsohn G. (2006) An Unconstitutional Constitution?: A Comparative Perspective. International Journal of Constitutional Law, vol. 4, no. 3, pp. 460–487.
Jacobsohn G. J. (2004) The Permeability of Constitutional Borders. Texas Law Review, vol. 82, no. 7, pp. 1763–1818.
Jakab A., Sonnevend P. (2013) Continuity with Deficiencies: The New Basic Law of Hungary. European Constitutional Law Review, vol. 9, no. 1, pp. 102–138.
Kalhan A. (2010) Constitution and “Extraconstitution”: Colonial Emergency Regimes in India and Pakistan. In: Ramraj V. V., Thiruvengadam A. K. Emergency Powers in Asia: Exploring the Limits of Legality, Cambridge; New York: Cambridge University Press, pp. 89–120.
Katz E. (1996) On Amending Constitutions: The Legality and Legitimacy of Constitutional Entrenchment. Columbia Journal of Law and Social Problems, vol. 29, no. 2, pp. 251–292.
Kommers D. P., Miller R. A. (2012) The Constitutional Jurisprudence of the Federal Republic of Germany. Durham: Duke University Press.
Kovács K., Tóth G. A. (2011) Hungary's Constitutional Transformation. European Constitutional Law Review, vol. 7, pp. 183–203.
Landau D. (2013) Abusive Constitutionalism. University of California Davis Law Review, vol. 47, no. 1, pp. 189–260.
Landau D. (2010) Political Institutions and Judicial Role in Comparative Constitutional Law. Harvard International Law Journal, vol. 51, no. 2, pp. 319–377.
Levitsky S., Way L. (2010) Competitive Authoritarianism: Hybrid Regimes after the Cold War, Cambridge; New York: Cambridge University Press.
Mehta Р. B. (2002) The Inner Conflict of Constitutionalism: Judicial Review and the “Basic Structure”. In: Hasan Z., Sridharan E., Sudarshan R. (eds.) India's Living Constitution: Ideas, Practices, Controversies, Delhi: Permanent Black, pp. 179–206.
Michelman F. I. (2003) Constitutional Legitimation for Political Acts. Modern Law Review, vol. 66, no. 1, pp. 1–15.
Michelman F. I. (2003) Ida's Way: Constructing the Respect-Worthy Governmental System. Fordham Law Review, vol. 72, no. 2, pp. 345–365.
Michelman F. I. (2004) Is the Constitution a Contract for Legitimacy? Review of Constitutional Studies, vol. 8, no. 2, pp. 101–128.
Miller R. A. (2010) Balancing Security and Liberty in Germany. Journal of Natural Security Law and Policy, vol. 4, pp. 369–396.
Mohallem M. F. (2011) Immutable Clauses and Judicial Review in India, Brazil and South Africa: Expanding Constitutional Courts' Authority. International Journal of Human Rights, vol. 15, no. 5, pp. 765–786.
Murphy W. F. (1980) An Ordering of Constitutional Values. South California Law Review, vol. 53, no. 2, pp. 703–760.
Nanda V. P. (1975) The Constitutional Framework and the Current Political Crisis in India. Hastings Constitutional Law Quarterly, vol. 2, no. 3, pp. 859–872.
Neuborne B. (2003) The Supreme Court of India. International Journal of Constitutional Law, vol. 1, no. 3, pp. 476–510.
O'Connell R. (1999) Guardians of the Constitution: Unconstitutional Constitutional Norms. Journal of Civil Liberties, vol. 4, pp. 48–75.
Partlett W. (2014) Constitutionally Eroding the Rule of Law. International Journal of Constitutional Law Blog, 8 January. Available at: http://www.iconnectblog.com/2014/01/constitutionally-eroding-the-rule-of-law/(accessed 03.03.2016).
Pizarro Leongomez E. (2006) Giants with Feet of Clay: Political Parties in Colombia. In: Mainwaring S., Bejarano A. M., Pizarro Leongómez E. (eds.) The Crisis of Democratic Representation in the Andes, Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press, pp. 78–99.
Posner R. A. (2003) Law, Pragmatism, and Democracy, Cambridge, MA : Harvard University Press.
Preuss U. (2011) The Implications of “Eternity Clauses”: The German Experience. Israel Law Review, vol. 44, no. 3, pp. 429–448.
Rao Ch. (1978) Mrs Indira Gandhi and India's Constitutional Structures: An Era of Erosion. Journal of Asian and African Studies, vol. 22, no. 3–4, pp. 156–175.
Ray A. (1987) From a Constitutional to an Authoritarian System of Government: Interactions between Politics and the Constitution in India. Journal of Commonwealth and Comparative Politics, vol. 25, no. 3, pp. 275–291.
Rose-Ackerman S., Desierto D. A., Voloshin N. (2011) Hyper-Presidentialism: Separation of Powers Without Checks and Balances in Argentina and the Philippines. Berkeley Journal of International Law, vol. 29, no. 1, pp. 246– 333.
Roznai Y. (2013) Unconstitutional Constitutional Amendments–The Migration and Success of a Constitutional Idea. American Journal of Comparative Law, vol. 61, no. 3, pp. 657–719.
Roznai Y., Yolcu S. (2012) An Unconstitutional Constitutional Amendment–The Turkish Perspective: A Comment on the Turkish Constitutional Court's Headscarf Decision. International Journal of Constitutional Law, vol. 10, no. 1, pp. 175–207.
Russell M. (2012) Elected Second Chambers and Their Powers: An International Survey. Political Quarterly, vol. 83, no. 1, pp. 117–129.
Samar V. J. (2008) Can a Constitutional Amendment be Unconstitutional? Oklahoma City University Law Review, vol. 33, no. 3, pp. 667–748.
Scheppele K. L. (2013) The Rule of Law and the Frankenstate: Why Governance Checklists do not Work. Governance, vol. 26, no. 4, pp. 559–562.
Schnably S. J. (2008) Emerging International Law Constraints on Constitutional Structures and Revision: A Preliminary Appraisal. University of Miami Law Review, vol. 62, no. 2, pp. 417–489.
Sullivan K. (1993) The Supreme Court, 1991 Term–Foreword: The Justices of Rules and Standards. Harvard Law Review, vol. 106, no. 1, pp. 22–123.
Stone Sweet A. (2000) Governing with Judges: Constitutional Politics in Europe, Oxford: Oxford University Press.
Thayer J. B. (1893) The Origin and Scope of the American Doctrine of Constitutional Law. Harvard Law Review, vol. 7, no. 3, pp. 129–156.
Tushnet M. (2012) From Judicial Restraint to Judicial Engagement: A Short Intellectual History. Georgia Mason Law Review, vol. 19, no. 4, pp. 1043– 1051.
Tushnet M. (2013) The Relation Between Political Constitutionalism and Weak-Form Judicial Review. German Law Journal, vol. 14, no. 12, pp. 2249–2263.
Waldron J. (1999) Law and Disagreement, Oxford: Oxford University Press.
Waldron J. (2006) The Core of the Case Against Judicial Review. Yale Law Journal, vol. 115, no. 6, pp. 1346–1406.
Weyland K. (2003) Neopopulism and Neoliberalism in Latin America: How Much Affinity? Third World Quarterly, vol. 24, no. 6, pp. 1095–1115.
Williams K. (2011) When a Constitutional Amendment Violates the “Substantive Core”: The Czech Constitutional Court's September 2009 Early Elections Case. Review of Central and East European Law, vol. 36, no. 1, pp. 33–51.
Young E. A. (2005) Foreword–Comment: Foreign Law and the Denominator Problem. Harvard Law Review, vol. 119, no. 1, pp. 148–167.