The judicial doctrine of constitutional identity: genesis, issues, and perspectives

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Author: Pavel Blokhin

DOI: 10.21128/1812-7126-2018-6-62-81

Keywords: constitutional identity; constitutional tradition; national identity; sovereignty; ultra vires


This article continues a series of Russian-language publications devoted to the judicial doctrine of constitutional (national) identity, which began to appear extensively after 2016 due to the adoption of a number of judgments of the Constitutional Court of the Russian Federation. In the first section, the author seeks to reveal the meaning of the concept of “identity” and to demonstrate its usefulness (along with the concept of “constitutional tradition”) in law in general. In the second section, the author describes in some detail the evolution of this doctrine in the practice of the Federal Constitutional Court of Germany (in conjunction with the concepts of “ultra vires control” and the “Solange technique”) and the French Constitutional Council (considering the concept of “essential conditions for the exercise of sovereignty”). In the third section, the author demonstrates the spread of this doctrine beyond the borders of these two states and even beyond the borders the of EU law in connection with disputes on the ratification of international treaties, the holding of a referendum, etc. Contiguous legal doctrine, which is “the identity of the constitution” and which is important to the constitutional law of India, is revealed as well. In the fourth section, the author tries to predict the relevance of the doctrine of national (constitutional) identity for building a dialogue with the EAEU Court, which should have the character, firstly, of pre-emption rather than the resolution of conflicts, and, secondly, of coordination rather than subordination. Attention is also drawn to the deep discrepancy between the categories of constitutional identity, on the one hand, and the identity of the constitution, as well as national identity, on the other. As a result, the author concludes that the domestic science of constitutional and international law, focused on the question of the primacy or subordination of various sources of law, was not quite ready to substantiate this new idea. Unlike most scholars who have written on this issue, the author seeks not only to review the sources of foreign constitutional law, but also to reveal the philosophical and social foundations of the doctrine of constitutional identity and to reveal its logical contradictions and problems of application.

About the author: Pavel Blokhin – Candidate of Sciences (Ph.D.) in Law, Adviser to the Judge, Russian Constitutional Court; Senior Lecturer, Law Faculty, Higher School of Economics, Saint Petersburg, Russia.

Citation: Blokhin P. (2018) Sudebnaya doktrina konstitutsionnoy identichnosti: genezis, problemy, perspektivy [The judicial doctrine of constitutional identity: genesis, issues, and perspectives]. Sravnitel'noe konstitutsionnoe obozrenie, vol.27, no.6, pp.62–81. (In Russian).


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