The burden of proof in Russian and American constitutional litigation

Available in Russian

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Author: Aldar Chirninov

DOI: 10.21128/1812-7126-2018-6-101-116

Keywords: burden of proof; evidence; fact-finding; proofing; законодательные факты; конституционный судебный процес; презумпция конституционности


The article deals with the burden of proof in Russian and American constitutional litigation. It discusses the legal nature of evidential burden, examines its allocation between the parties, and determines the significance of the presumption of constitutionality in shifting the burden of proof from the government to the citizen, and vice versa. The author claims that within the framework of judicial review of legislative actions, there is a limited mechanism for the distribution of the burden of producing evidence. While in civil and criminal cases the burden of proof is basically reallocated by a legislator by entrenching specific requirements and various presumptions in substantive law, constitutional review organs are to apply constitutional principles that do not normally provide for special rules shifting the evidential burden and tend to contain no presumptions with respect to the legislative process. However, that does not mean that the burden of proof in constitutional cases is distributed less flexibly than in civil or criminal ones. On the one hand, constitutional review organs may interpret constitutional principles as obliging a particular party to confirm or refute a legislative assumption. On the other hand, they can actively resort to factual presumptions. Having considered examples from case law of the Russian Constitutional Court and the United States Supreme Court, the author concludes that in Russian constitutional litigation the presumption of constitutionality can be treated as just an abstract legal principle not capable of predetermining the existence of facts affecting the constitutionality of laws, whereas in the context of American constitutional litigation it serves as a full-fledged presumption since American courts use differentiated standards of review that limit the effect of the presumption of constitutionality in some categories of constitutional cases.

About the author: Aldar Chirninov – Assistant Professor at Ural State Law University, Ekaterinburg, Russia.

Citation: Chirninov A. (2018) Bremya dokazyvaniya v konstitutsionnom sudebnom protsesse Rossii i SShA [The burden of proof in Russian and American constitutional litigation]. Sravnitel'noe konstitutsionnoe obozrenie, vol.27, no.6, pp.101–116.


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