Evolutionary approach in reasoning practice of constitutional justice

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Author: Aleksandra Uroshleva

DOI: 10.21128/1812-7126-2020-6-115-140

Keywords: "living constitution"; argumentative practice; constitutional justice; evolutionary (evolutive) interpretation; evolutionary approach


The author examines the essence and characteristic features of the evolutionary interpretation in constitutional review bodies decisions and concludes given the relationship between processes of argumentation and interpretation, as well as definite characteristics and trends in the application of the evolutionary interpretation in different countries, that it is more appropriate to talk about the evolutionary approach in argumentation, not about a separate method of interpretation. An evolutionary constitutional interpretation, as it is stated in the article, does not necessarily mean going beyond the literal text of the basic law. A literal (textual) interpretation and an evolutionary approach are combined phenomena of different nature; they are allocated based on various criteria – the source (orientation on the text) and the socially adaptive result, respectively. The value of the evolutionary approach is associated with the possibility of “adjusting” constitutional norms to real social canvas without making changes to the text of a constitution. The author shows using the case law examples that an evolutionary interpretation can be expansive, that is aimed at increasing the scope of constitutional regulation (“filling” constitutional norms with “new” (additional) content, picking out new human rights, increasing their level of protection), and restrictive, that is narrowing the scope regulated and (or) protected by a constitution (reducing level of human rights guarantees or subject area of constitutional regulation). Considering through the prism of specific constitutional justice cases such doctrines as of a “living constitution” in the United States of America, a “living tree” in Canada and the concept of “judicial law development” in Germany, the author comes to the conclusion that an independent concept of the evolutionary approach in legal reasoning has not been formed yet in the Russian practice of constitutional justice. In this regard, it seems to be perspective direction to develop such a concept, especially in the context of a possibility of combining the evolutionary approach with original interpretation. It seems that despite the fact that the problem of judicial activism is not now a problem of current urgent interest in Russia, the constitutional amendments of 2020 have actualized the potential for an evolutionary interpretation of certain constitutional provisions.

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. (2020) Evolyutivnyy podkhod v argumentativnoy praktike konstitutsionnogo pravosudiya [Evolutionary approach in reasoning practice of constitutional justice]. Sravnitel'noe konstitutsionnoe obozrenie, vol.29, no.6, pp.115–140. (In Russian).


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