CCR №1 (134) 2020
Principles of constitutional interpretation

The full text of the article is available only in Russian.

Abstract

What are the criteria for correct interpretation in constitutional law? Are there any interpretative requirements that guide and limit the interpretative work of judges? What is the legitimacy of constitutional interpretation based on? These and a number of similar questions can be answered positively by pointing to the principles of constitutional interpretation. The author examines the essence, functions, features, classifications and content of principles of constitutional interpretation. Principles of constitutional interpretation are the basic requirements for determining the meaning of a constitutional text regarding the limits of interpretation, the order of interpretation, the choice of methods of interpretation and resolution of conflicts between the possible results of interpretation, verification of the results of interpretation. Principles of constitutional interpretation as secondary rules occupy a separate space in the system of constitutional interpretation, have an incontestable, categorical and supreme character, perform guiding, restrictive and legitimate functions. Principles must be distinguished from the methods, canons and rules of constitutional interpretation, for which the former are a kind of “secondary rules for the secondary rules”, which ensure their supremacy. There is no consensus in scholarly literature on the list and classification of principles of constitutional interpretation. However, it seems possible to divide them into four groups, depending on the stages of interpretation process, which cause the most controversy in terms of correctness from the public’s point of view: principles of the bounds of interpretation (principle of the language of the text; principle of the nature of judicial interpretation function), principles of the order of interpretation (principle of objectivity of interpretation; principle of the reasonableness of interpretation), principles which guide the choice of methods of interpretation and help to resolve conflicts between possible interpretation results (principle of equal importance and lack of hierarchy of methods of interpretation; principle of the systemic unity and integrity of the constitution and constitutional law; principle “in dubio pro libertate”; principle of integration), principles of verification of interpretation results (principle of legal certainty; principle of effectiveness; principle of constitutional conformity of interpretation). Most of these principles are used in judicial practice, which is a criterion for their validity. The abstract nature of principles of constitutional interpretation and the variety of practical situations in which they should be applied complicates their a priori understanding, which determines the definition of their content and application by courts in the process of resolving disputes.

About the author:

Dmitry Shustrov – Candidate of Sciences (Ph.D.) in Law; Associate Professor, Lomonosov Moscow State University; Moscow, Russia

Citation: Shustrov D. (2020) Printsipy konstitutsionnogo tolkovaniya [Principles of constitutional interpretation]. Sravnitel’noe konstitutsionnoe obozrenie, vol.29, no.1, pp.107–132. (In Russian).

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