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Spezifisches Verfassungsrecht und Gestaltungsraum des Gesetzgebers

Abstract

The article analyses the impact that the diminutive size of the four continental Europe micro states has upon their constitutional arrangements and their approach toward continental integration mechanisms. Generally speaking, the international commitment toward integration mechanisms is one of the distinguishing traits of micro states. It may seem a paradox, but actually the international dimension is much more strategic for micro than for macro states. However, being micro territorial enclaves demanded certain ability from the part of European micro states when managing foreign relations in order not to be swallowed by their macro neighbours. Therefore, they carried out for centuries a cautious policy of ‘guarded openness’, trying to strike a balance between the maintenance of their traditional institutions and the need to interact on a continental scale. Constitutional systems that at a first glance are unusual may be an obstacle to integration and thus have to be reformed. However, not too much, because otherwise the whole system may implode if deprived of its original constitutional balance. The protection of national tradition and identity is conservative, in the sense that it arises from the necessity of self-preservation, rather than from ideology. The article claims that the ambivalent approach of continental Europe micro states have when interacting with macro states within the Council of Europe and the EU directly derives from their diminutive size. Furthermore, the relevant role played by the diminutive size is proved by the fact that recently the EU adopted a specific micro states approach. Hence, the article also aims at investigating how they try to strike a balance between the commitment toward self-preservation – i.e. their constitutional identity – and the commitment toward continental integration mechanisms.

Abstract

The increasing interest of legal academia on the doctrine of Unconstitutional Constitutional Amendments and its growing enforcement by the judiciary in different jurisdictions has started to normalize a doctrine that was considered controversial and extraordinary. This paper seeks to cast some doubts on the use of this doctrine, especially when the Court that enforces it is the subject of the amendment itself. In the first section it will question the conceptual foundations of the doctrine by recourse to legal theory, focusing not only on the idea of constituent power, but also on those of the rule of law and accountability. In the second section, some comparative cases of unconstitutional constitutional amendments will be analyzed, focusing on those where the judiciary itself was the subject of the amendment. Finally, from a normative and conceptual standpoint, a dialogic approach to the application of the doctrine will be proposed, to mitigate the fact that Constitutional Courts can become an unaccountable accountability-holder.

Abstract

This article deals with one of the perennial questions of legal and political philosophy, ie, how the state should relate to religion? It makes a distinction between five models: (i) the atheist state, (ii) the theocratic state, (iii) the model of an official state church, (iv) the multiculturalist state, and (v) the agnostic state (or secular state). The authors reflect on the legitimacy of each of these models. Some states reclaim their right to adopt an official religion as their state religion or as the religious Leitkultur of their country (model iii). Others favor the support of religion as long as this is premised on the equal rights of all religions (model iv). And others think that the state can only support equal citizenship if the state does not support any religion whatsoever (model v).

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Abstract

The present article maps the explicit references to the rule of law in the jurisprudence of the ECtHR by examining the judgments of the Grand Chamber and the Plenary Court. On the basis of the structured analysis it seeks to identify the constitutive elements of the Court’s rule of law concept and contrast it with the author’s working definition and the position of other Council of Europe organs. The review of the case-law indicates that the Court primarily associates the rule of law with access to court, judicial safeguards, legality and democracy, and it follows a moderately thick definition of the concept including formal, procedural and some substantive elements. The rule of law references are predominantly ancillary arguments giving weight to other Convention-based considerations and it is not applied as a self-standing standard.

Abstract

Proponents of judicial supremacy argue that the interpretation of the Constitution by the Supreme Court is authoritative for the two other branches of government, while advocates of judicial review (or departmentalism) argue that authority to interpret the Constitution resides in each branch. Both sides offer historical examples in which their understanding prevailed. How to resolve this impasse? I argue that Hobbes and Spinoza can inform the debate. To do so, I first unpack the terms: what is the difference between judicial review or departmentalism and judicial supremacy? I then show that a renowned legal scholar, Larry Alexander, specifically invokes Hobbes in defense of judicial supremacy. For Alexander, the Supreme Court functions as a Hobbesian sovereign. Spinoza presents a clear alternative to the Hobbesian solution of avoiding a state of nature by concentrating power in a unitary sovereign, namely, via a strategy of diffusing power throughout society. But Spinoza’s solution is not yet a formal separation of powers. This conception of power can therefore clarify the assumptions made by advocates of both judicial review or departmentalism and judicial supremacy. I close by considering instances in American history when the application of departmentalist logic did not lead to a Hobbesian state of nature. And what are the lessons for today? I suggest that it is perhaps time to consider an analog to the Canadian/Israeli notwithstanding clause. But rather than adopting verbatim their legislative override, which effectively designates the legislative branch to be supreme, we could require two of the three independent and equal branches to decide contended constitutional questions. Such an American notwithstanding clause would respect the design of our federal government.

Abstract

The increasing interest of legal academia on the doctrine of Unconstitutional Constitutional Amendments and its growing enforcement by the judiciary in different jurisdictions has started to normalize a doctrine that was considered controversial and extraordinary. This paper seeks to cast some doubts on the use of this doctrine, especially when the Court that enforces it is the subject of the amendment itself. In the first section it will question the conceptual foundations of the doctrine by recourse to legal theory, focusing not only on the idea of constituent power, but also on those of the rule of law and accountability. In the second section, some comparative cases of unconstitutional constitutional amendments will be analyzed, focusing on those where the judiciary itself was the subject of the amendment. Finally, from a normative and conceptual standpoint, a dialogic approach to the application of the doctrine will be proposed, to mitigate the fact that Constitutional Courts can become an unaccountable accountability-holder.

Abstract

This article deals with one of the perennial questions of legal and political philosophy, i. e., how the state should relate to religion? It makes a distinction between five models: (i) the atheist state, (ii) the theocratic state, (iii) the model of an official state church, (iv) the multiculturalist state, and (v) the agnostic state (or secular state). The authors reflect on the legitimacy of each of these models. Some states reclaim their right to adopt an official religion as their state religion or as the religious Leitkultur of their country (model iii). Others favor the support of religion as long as this is premised on the equal rights of all religions (model iv). And others think that the state can only support equal citizenship if the state does not support any religion whatsoever (model v).

Abstract

The present article maps the explicit references to the rule of law in the jurisprudence of the ECtHR by examining the judgments of the Grand Chamber and the Plenary Court. On the basis of the structured analysis it seeks to identify the constitutive elements of the Court’s rule of law concept and contrast it with the author’s working definition and the position of other Council of Europe organs. The review of the case-law indicates that the Court primarily associates the rule of law with access to court, judicial safeguards, legality and democracy, and it follows a moderately thick definition of the concept including formal, procedural and some substantive elements. The rule of law references are predominantly ancillary arguments giving weight to other Convention-based considerations and it is not applied as a self-standing standard.