“Let them put even more belts on you”: the judicial review of constitutional amendments in a comparative perspective

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Author: Dmitry Shustrov

DOI: 10.21128/1812-7126-2019-2-105-123

Keywords: constitution; counter-majoritarian difficulty; judicial review of constitutional amendments; limits of change


Compliance with the limits of constitutional change is within the competence of the bodies involved in this process. It is the prerogative of political authorities: the parliament, the head of state, the authorities of the states of federal unity, or the people themselves. However, such bodies may either be in the thrall of their own convictions or belong to the same political platform, which objectively reduces the degree of control over one another, or they may simply have the goal to abuse their power to amend the constitution. It seems that, besides political review, there should be judicial review over constitutional amendments, since it is important to have some external, impartial, disinterested body, which, not being political by its nature, is excluded from the political struggle and is able to provide control over the constitutional change in terms of the procedure, and in terms of the content of this change. Judicial review is best suited for this role. The limits of constitutional change in the absence of a mechanism for their judicial protection are perceived as political declarations or moral restrictions to the constitutional legislator, who is free to both follow them and ignore them. When there is a special mechanism of judicial review, the limits of constitutional change acquire a binding and restrictive effect for the constitutional legislator and the possible legal consequences of recognizing constitutional changes unconstitutional. This article makes a distinction between political and judicial constitutional control of constitutional amendments, argues for the need of the latter, defines judicial review of constitutional amendments, analyzes ways for its establishment in the field of constitutional law, and gives examples of legal argumentation of judicial review of constitutional amendments.

About the author: Dmitry Shustrov – Candidate of Sciences (Ph.D.) in Law; Associate Professor, Lomonosov Moscow State University; Moscow, Russia.

Citation: Shustrov D. (2019) “Pust' oni eshchyo bol'she remney na tebya namotayut”: konstitutsionnyy kontrol' za popravkami k konstitutsii v sravnitel'noy perspektive [“Let them put even more belts on you”: the judicial review of constitutional amendments in a comparative perspective]. Sravnitel'noe konstitutsionnoe obozrenie, vol. 28, no. 2, pp. 105–123. (In Russian).


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