Legal reasoning in constitutional justice: at the foot of the rhetorical approach

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Author: Aleksandra Uroshleva

DOI: 10.21128/1812-7126-2019-5-55-71

Keywords: ,; constitutional justice; legal reasoning; rhetorical approach; structure of judgments


The author of this article finds it necessary to pay more attention to the reasoning in the judgments of the bodies of constitutional review, taking into account the significant role that such judgments play in modern democracies. Meanwhile, in domestic legal science and practice focus is often made on regarding methods of constitutional interpretation, but not constitutional reasoning per se. The author defines the aim and the functions of constitutional reasoning. Acceptance of reasoning by parties of a constitutional process and by society as a whole is postulated as the aim of the reasoning, but it differs from a consent. A court’s aspiration to convince the audience should not be limited to meeting public expectations. Courts should consider public interests, but at the same time, they should remain “defenders” of the constitutional order and human rights. The author formulates, given the aim, the argumentative-interpretative, legitimating, policy-making or disciplining and informative functions of constitutional reasoning. As an effective model of reasoning in the judgments of the bodies of constitutional review, the author suggests a rhetorical one, considering the need to achieve the stated aim of the reasoning and to perform the indicated functions. The rhetorical approach presupposes a reliance on the plausible, but not true premises and in that is consistent with the social nature of law. Within the framework of the rhetorical model of the reasoning it is possible to use not only the formal-logical arguments but, for example, the psychological and pragmatic ones as well. The key attention in the framework of the rhetorical approach is paid to the structuring of the reasoning process and, as a consequence, to the content of the judgments. Rationalization of the reasoning as a process happens through the identification of the initial premises, the grounds of the reasoning and the application of the case-solving algorithms, such as the proportionality test, for example. The focus of constitutional reasoning on the audience acceptance gives a reason to believe that the rhetorical approach is more likely to reflect the realities of the functioning of the constitutional justice systems, than the other possible approaches, including the formal logical one.

About the author: Aleksandra Uroshleva – Ph.D. Student, Department of Constitutional and Municipal Law, Law Faculty, Lomonosov Moscow State University, Moscow, Russia.

Citation: Uroshleva A. (2019) Obosnovanie resheniy organov konstitutsionnogo pravosudiya: na podstupakh k ritoricheskomu podkhodu [Legal reasoning in constitutional justice: at the foot of rhetorical approach]. Sravnitel'noe konstitutsionnoe obozrenie, vol.28, no.5, pp.55–71. (In Russian).


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