The implications of incommensurability for rights’ adjudication tend to be overlooked in much of contemporary constitutional theory. This paper criticizes the dominant “one right-answer” approach to conflicts of rights, and develops an alternative approach that is better suited to constitutional rights’ adjudication in contemporary pluralistic legal orders. It is submitted that the normative reasons for having courts undertake the value-choices implicit in constitutional rights’ adjudication, and for preferring certain legal methodologies over others, must reflect the role of courts in resolving social disputes in the light of specific aspects of the economic, social, and legal life of the polities in which those courts operate. It is further argued that any theory that builds from this approach needs to answer two inter-related questions: when is constitutional rights’ adjudication by courts appropriate, and how rights’ adjudication should be pursued.
The EU Speakers’ Conference has experienced a ‘second youth’ after the entry into force of the Treaty of Lisbon by playing a ‘quasi-constitutional’ role in inter-parliamentary cooperation, and in particular by trying to exercise a rule-making function over the many inter-parliamentary venues of the EU’s system of government. The fulfilment of such a function has certainly not been made any easier as a consequence of the constitutional constraints surrounding the positions of the Speakers and Presidents of the European and Member States’ (MS) Parliaments, with a considerable variety in terms of powers and decision-making capacity among the MS and the EU. Despite these limitations, the ‘quasi-constitutional’ role of the EU Speakers’ Conference has mainly consisted of approving guidelines, if not directly rules of procedure, for other inter-parliamentary venues. It has also been argued that the coordinating function of the EU Speakers’ Conference can be much more effective when looking at its ‘quasi-constitutional’ role, and also in its function of joint parliamentary scrutiny in the EU, if it is aimed at enhancing the rational organisation of inter-parliamentary activities in terms of timing, agendas and ex-post supervision of the results, in the absence of any other possible alternative to the Speakers’ leadership.
This special issue of Perspectives on Federalism collects papers mostly presented at the General Conference of the European Consortium of Political Research in September 2014. The issue contains five papers dealing with the role, the status, the dynamics, and the functions of sub-national constitutional politics and sub-national constitutionalism in a number of member states of the EU as well as in a comparative, non-EU perspective. Even though the papers take different perspectives on the topic at hand, they all engage with the contribution sub-national constitutions can make to democracy and the nationstate within as well as outside of Europe.
Giuseppe Martinico, Richard Albert, Antonia Baraggia and Cristina Fasone
Canada is and will for the foreseeable future be a peaceful and prosperous liberal democracy whose Constitution Act, 1867, now 150 years old as of 2017, has become a model for the modern world. The Constitution of Canada has exerted considerable influence on other countries, particularly since the coming into force of its Constitution Act, 1982, which included the celebrated Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. Just as Canada drew from foreign and international experiences in drafting its Charter, the world has learned a great deal from Canada, not only as to rights protections but also as to the separation of powers, the judicial function, and the structure of government.
In light of these impressive achievements, an international symposium on the Canadian Constitution was held in Pisa at the Scuola Sant’Anna under the auspices of the Sant’Anna Legal Studies project and with the support of the DIRPOLIS (Law, Politics and Development) Institute at the Scuola Sant’Anna, the Canadian Embassy in Italy, and the International Association of Constitutional Law. This special issue collects some of the papers presented on that occasion.
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