CCR №4 (119) 2017
Constitutional courts and political uncertainty: Constitutional ruptures and the rule of judges. Part 1

Abstract.
In a constitutional rupture, when the fundamental rules of political life are uncertain, it is unlikely that constitutional courts could play a major role. Yet in some remarkable cases, such courts transform into highly interventionist political actors, even achieving some success. This paper provides a series of short case studies highlighting Hungary, Russia, Turkey, and South Africa to illustrate common elements that are shared across interventionist courts in such times – namely (1) institutional centrality, (2) strong and personalized court leadership, and (3) division among elected branches of the state. All of these factors then combine with a court-derived constitutional vision that undergirds a constitutional court’s legitimacy in the extra-constitutional period, which makes the court intervention in political matters effective and successful. Among the examined cases, the vision of the so-called “invisible constitution”, created by the Hungarian constitutional court. has proven to be quite effective. In general, the Hungarian case is the most expressive one while other cases are incomplete in any sense. However, they are valuable from the cognitive point of view. Several examples where at least one of the discussed factors has lacked confirm that only the combination of all three factors would make successful constitutional court’s interventions in politics possible. The introduced set of factors is then applied in detail to the case of post-Mubarak Egypt in order to explore the qualities of court interventions showing their ephemeral and self-limiting nature. The paper makes clear terms used for description of the addressed issues. In particular, it distinguishes between an interventionist court and an activist one. The important term of constitutional ruptures also is determined.

About the author
Nathan J. Brown –  Professor of Political Science and International Affairs, George Washington University, Washington, USA.

Julian G. Waller – Ph.D. candidate, Department of Political Science, George Washington University, Washington, USA).

Citation:
Brown N.J., Waller J.G. (2017) Konstitutsionnye sudy i politicheskaya ne­opredelennost’: razryv konstitutsionnoy preemstvennosti i “pravlenie sudey”. Chast’ 1 [Constitutional courts and political uncertainty: Constitutional ruptures and the rule of judges. Part 1]. Sravnitel’noe konstitutsionnoe obozrenie, no.4, pp.30–46. (In Russian).

References

Bâli A.Ü. (2012) The Perils of Judicial Independence: Constitutional Transition and the Turkish Example. Virginia Journal of International Law, vol.52, no.2, pp.235–320.

Belge C. (2006) Friends of the Court: The Republican Alliance and Selective Activism of the Constitutional Court of Turkey. Law and Society Review, vol.40, no.3, pp.653–692.

Bond J. (2006) Concerning Constitutional Courts in Central and Eastern Europe. International Public Policy Review, vol.2, no.2, pp.5–25.

Cepeda-Espinosa M.J. (2004) Judicial Activism in a Violent Context: The Origin, Role, and Impact of the Colombian Constitutional Court. Washington University Global Studies Law Review, vol.3, no.4, pp.529–700.

Chemerinsky E. (1988) Parity Reconsidered: Defining a Role for the Federal Judiciary. UCLA Law Review, vol.36, no.2, pp.233–327.

Davis M.H. (1987) A Government of Judges: An Historical Re-View. American Journal of Comparative Law, vol.35, no.3, pp.559–580.

Engel S.M. (2013) Constructing Courts: Judicial Institutional Change Embedded in Larger Political Dynamics. Tulsa Law Review, vol.49, no.2, pp.291–303.

Epstein L., Knight J., Shevtsova O. (2001) The Role of Constitutional Courts in the Establishment and Maintenance of Democratic Systems of Government. Law and Society Review, vol.35, no.1, pp.117–164.

EpsteinL., Walker T.G., Dixon W.J. (1989) The Supreme Court and Criminal Justice Disputes: A Neo-Institutional Perspective. American Journal of Political Science, vol.33, no.4, pp.825–841.

Ferejohn J. (1999) Independent Judges, Dependent Judiciary: Explaining Judicial Independence. South California Law Review, vol.72, no.2–3, pp.353–384.

Gibson J.L., Caldeira G.A. (2003) Defenders of Democracy? Legitimacy, Popular Acceptance, and the South African Constitutional Court. Journal of Politics, vol.65, no.1, pp.1–30.

Ginsburg T. (2003) Judicial Review in New Democracies: Constitutional Courts in Asian Cases, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Glennon M.J. (1987) Protecting the Court’s Institutional Interests: Why Not the Marbury Approach? American Journal of International Law, vol.81, no.1, pp.121–129.

Goldblatt B. (2006) Same-sex Marriage in South Africa: The Constitutional Court’s Judgment. Feminist Legal Studies, vol.14, no.2, pp.261–270.

Hazama Y. (1996) Constitutional Review and the Parliamentary Opposition in Turkey. Developing Economies, vol.34, no.3, pp.316–338.

Hendley K. (1998) Remaking an Institution: The Transition in Russia from State Arbitrazh to Arbitrazh Courts. American Journal of Comparative Law, vol.46, no.1, pp.93–127.

Hilbink L. (2007) Judges beyond Politics in Democracy and Dictatorship: Lessons from Chile, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Hirschl R. (2007) Towards Juristocracy: The Origins and Consequences of the New Constitutionalism, Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.

Huntington S.P. (1991) The Third Wave: Democratization in the Late Twentieth Century, Norman, OK: University of Oklahoma Press.

Huyse L. (1995) Justice after Transition: On the Choices Successor Elites Make in Dealing with the Past. Law and Social Inquiry, vol.20, no.1, pp.51–78.

Issacharoff S. (2004) Constitutionalizing Democracy in Fractured Societies. Texas Law Review, vol.82, no.7, pp.1861–1893.

Issacharoff S. (2013) The Democratic Risk to Democratic Transitions: New York University Public Law and Legal Theory Working Papers. Paper 418. Available at: http://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=2324861 (accessed: 17.08.2017).

Klingsberg E. (1992) Judicial Review and Hungary’s Transition from Communism to Democracy: The Constitutional Court, the Continuity of Law, and the Redefinition of Property Rights. Brigham Young University Law Review, no.1, pp.41–144.

Kmiec K.D. (2004) The Origin and Current Meanings of “Judicial Activism”. California Law Review, vol.92, no.5, pp.1441–1477.

Kuru A.T., Stepan A. (eds.) (2012) Democracy, Islam, and Secularism in Turkey, New York: Columbia University Press.

Özbudun E. (2006) Political Origins of the Turkish Constitutional Court and the Problem of Democratic Legitimacy. European Public Law, vol.12, no.2, pp.213–224.

Paczolay P. (1992) Constitutional Transition and Legal Continuity. Connecticut Journal of International Law, vol.8, no.2, pp.559–574.

Roosevelt K. (2008) The Myth of Judicial Activism: Making Sense of Supreme Court Decisions, New Haven, CT : Yale University Press.

Rosenberg G.N. (1992) Judicial Independence and the Reality of Political Power. The Review of Politics, vol.54, no.3, pp.369–398.

Roux T. (2009) Principle and Pragmatism in the Constitutional Court of South Africa. International Journal of Constitutional Law, vol.7, no.1, pp.106–138.

Rudovsky D. (1989) The Qualified Immunity Doctrine in the Supreme Court: Judicial Activism and the Restriction of Constitutional Rights. University of Pennsylvania Law Review, vol.138, no.1, pp.23–81.

Sajó A. (1995) Reading the Invisible Constitution: Judicial Review in Hungary. Oxford Journal of Legal Studies, vol.15, no.2, pp.253–267.

Sarkin J. (1999) The Drafting of South Africa’s Final Constitution from a Human-Rights Perspective. American Journal of Comparative Law, vol.47, no.1, pp.67–87.

Scheppele K.L. (2003) Constitutional Negotiations: Political Contexts of Judicial Activism in Post-Soviet Europe. International Sociology, vol.18, no.1, pp.219–238.

Scheppele K.L. (2006) Guardians of the Constitution: Constitutional Court Presidents and the Struggle for the Rule of Law in Post-Soviet Europe. University of Pennsylvania Law Review, vol.154, no.6, pp.1757–1852.

Solomon P.H., Jr., Fogelsong T.S. (2000) Courts and Transition in Russia: The Challenge of Judicial Reform, Boulder, CO: Westview Press.

Sólyom L., Brunner G. (2003) Constitutional Judiciary in a New Democracy: The Hungarian Constitutional Court, Ann-Arbor, MI: University of Michigan Press.

Tushnet M. (2009) Weak Courts, Strong Rights: Judicial Review and Social Welfare Rights in Comparative Constitutional Law, Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press.

Waldron J. (1998) Judicial Review and the Conditions of Democracy. Journal of Political Philosophy, vol.6, no.4, pp.335–355.

Waldron J. (2006) The Core of the Case against Judicial Review. Yale Law Journal, vol.115, no.6, pp.1346–1407.

Issue articles