Doctrinal characteristic of the subject of constitutional law as a factor in strengthening or overcoming of its dysfunction

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Author: Irina Alebastrova

DOI: 10.21128/1812-7126-2019-6-50-60

Keywords: constitution; constitutional law; constitutionalism; history of the constitution, development of the constitution; limited governance; subject of constitutional law


On the basis of a critical analysis of modern concepts of the object of constitutional law, the author presents her own concept. In accordance with it, the object of constitutional law covers two elements. The first element includes political relations originally intended to restrict the state power by means of putting it under the people’s control (mostly these are political relations within which public authorities are placed under the control of the people). The second element covers social relations of great importance to the society, which concern various spheres of life (economical, cultural, social, etc.). The author proves that those two elements of constitutional law subject are united, but not identical. The relations of the first group are directly related to the original idea of the constitution phenomenon, which is the restriction of the state power. Thus, any constitution regulates these relations in a more detailed way as compared to the other kinds of social relations, with other sources of constitutional law focusing solely on these political relations. Nonpolitical social relations are addressed by constitutions in a very short and generic way (while more detailed regulations can be found in the legal norms of other branches of law). The unity of the object of constitutional law has a historical foundation. A constitution occurred as a system of state power limitations. On the one hand, the number of those limitations has gradually increased. Consequently, around a constitution a whole new branch of law has evolved – the branch that we call today constitutional law. On the other hand, in the XXth century constitutional texts started to include norms designed to solve significant matters other than the restriction of the state power (relations between nations and religious communities, in the field of education, labor, etc.). As a result, the scientific characteristics of the object of constitutional law has changed: constitutional law has been defined as the fundamental branch of law regulating the relations of the greatest significance. The author objects to that definition because it helps to legitimize any type of state power including autocracy, id est it goes against the original purpose of a constitution as such and might lead to a strengthening of constitutional dysfunction.

About the author: Irina Alebastrova – Doctor of Sciences in Law, Associate Professor, Public Law Disciplines Department, Higher School of Economics, Moscow, Russia.

Citation: Alebastrova I. (2019) Doktrinal'naya kharakteristika predmeta konstitutsionnogo prava kak faktor ukrepleniya ili preodoleniya otraslevoy disfunktsii [Doctrinal characteristic of the object of constitutional law as a factor in overcoming or strengthening of the branch’s dysfunction]. Sravnitel'noe konstitutsionnoe obozrenie, vol. 28, no. 6, pp. 50–60. (In Russian).


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