Non-traditional evidence in Russian and American constitutional litigation

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Author: Aldar Chirninov

DOI: 10.21128/1812-7126-2018-3-47-72

Keywords: evidence; fact-finding; иностранное право; конституционный судебный процес; материалы законодательного процесса; правоприменительная практика; статистика


This article examines the use of non-traditional evidence by Russian and American constitutional review organs while deciding constitutional cases. With references to case law of the Russian Constitutional Court and the United States Supreme Court, the author demonstrates that unlike traditional forms of adjudication, judicial review of legislation requires the assessment of legislative process materials, judicial opinions that differently interpret the same legal norms, foreign law and court decisions, and statistical evidence. Using methods of comparative law, the author determines the legal importance of facts that judges and parties in constitutional litigation can extract from the above-mentioned non-traditional evidence. While the evidentiary value of the materials of the legislative process depends largely on the quality of factual justification given by lawmakers for its normative decisions, the legislative record is of great value even where it contains no reference to facts. For instance, if the legislator is under constitutional duty to give reasons for legislative acts, the legislative process materials become the only admissible evidence of constitutionality that the legislator can adduce in order to support its arguments. Another important conclusion is that the centralized model of constitutional review considers the uniformity of judicial practice as a self-sufficient criterion of constitutionality, whereas the decentralized model of constitutional review does not, because American courts decide constitutional issues in the course of adjudicating specific cases and controversies. The general finding of the article is that by resorting to the legislative record, the courts can exercise both procedural and substantive judicial review of legislation, whereas judgments containing different interpretations of the challenged legal norm, foreign law and court decisions, and statistical data are able to create only substantive grounds for constitutional review.

About the author: Aldar Chirninov – Ph.D. Student, Ural State Law University, Yekaterinburg, Russia.

Citation: Chirninov A. (2018) Netipichnye dokazatel'stva v konstitutsionnom sudebnom protsesse Rossii i SShA [Non-traditional evidence in Russian and American constitutional litigation]. Sravnitel'noe konstitutsionnoe obozrenie, vol.27, no.3, pp.47–72. (In Russian).


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