This essay on law and religion appears in the second edition of the Blackwell Companion to Philosophy of Law and Legal Theory, edited by Dennis Patterson. It is a revision of a similar entry in the book’s first edition. The essay opens by broadly discussing the complex relationships between law and religion writ large as movements in human history – social, cultural, intellectual, and institutional phenomena with distinct but often overlapping logics and concerns. It then hones in on the efforts (...) of secular law to make sense of religion and determine its place in the civil state. The essay argues that, while the questions raised by the American Bill of Rights’ religion clauses connect in some important respects to broader constitutional principles such as free expression and equality, the most interesting and theoretically excruciating conundrums involving religion need to be approached on their own unique terms. Two useful rubrics for such understanding are “separation” and “deference.” Any honest account must also admit, however, that there is an “intractable residue,” questions in the relation of religion and law to which there simply is no determinate or completely satisfactory answer. Finally, the essay emphasizes that the full texture of the legal imagination’s effort to grapple with religion only becomes apparent in the wider range of subconstitutional and nonconstitutional contexts beyond the standard litany of constitutional discourse. (shrink)
In the 225 years since the United States Constitution was first drafted, no single book has addressed the key questions of what constitutions are designed to do, how they are structured, and why they matter. In From Words to Worlds, constitutional scholar Beau Breslin corrects this glaring oversight, singling out the essential functions that a modern, written constitution must incorporate in order to serve as a nation's fundamental law. Breslin lays out and explains the basic functions of a modern (...) constitution -- including creating a new citizenry, structuring the institutions of government, regulating conflict between layers and branches of government, and limiting the power of the sovereign. He also moves into the esoteric, discussing the theoretical concepts behind the fundamentals of written constitutions and examining in-depth some of the most important constitutional charters from around the world. In assaying how states put the structural ideas into practice, Breslin asks probing questions about why -- and if -- constitutions matter. His answer is a resounding yes. Solidly argued and engagingly written, this comparative study in constitutional thought demonstrates clearly the key components that a state's foundational document must address. In doing so, Breslin draws a critically important distinction between constitutional texts and constitutional practice. (shrink)
Alison L. LaCroix is Assistant Professor of Law at the University of Chicago Law School, where she specializes in legal history, federalism, constitutional law and questions of jurisdiction. She has written a fine, scholarly volume on the intellectual origins of American federalism. LaCroix holds the JD degree (Yale, 1999) and a Ph.D. in history (Harvard, 2007). According to the author, to fully understand the origins of American federalism, we must look beyond the Constitutional Convention of 1787 and range (...) over the colonial, revolutionary, and founding periods including developments in the early republic. LaCroix questions both the idea that American federalism originated, all at once, at the Constitutional Convention of 1787 and the idea that republican ideology (with its strong emphasis on legislative power) was the single dominant framework of eighteenth-century American political thought. Versions and elements of federalist or con-federative ideas were also long present and in a process of development. (shrink)
The article examines Hans Kelsen's and Carl Schmitt's lines of thought concerning the relationship between constitutional and international law, with the aim of ascertaining their respective ability to capture developments affecting that relationship, even those of a contradictory nature. It is significant that, while the rise of wars of humanitarian intervention in the post-Cold War era has evoked Schmitt's concept of the bellum iustum, the evolution in the direction of the “constitutionalisation of international law” has drawn attention to Kelsen's (...) theoretical approach. However, these assumptions rely heavily on the opposing objectives that the two authors claimed to pursue, such as, respectively, the search for the ultimate seat of political power and a pure theory of law. Things are more complicated, both because these objectives by no means exhaust Kelsen's and Schmitt's lines of thought, and because the conception of sovereignty as omnipotence, at the core of the Weimar controversy, is now behind us. (shrink)
This essay proposes a theory of excuse that, without blending it into exculpation, avoids the condonation of crime. The question it takes up is: given that neither compulsion by circumstances nor by human threats removes the legal reason for punishing, how can its exonerating force be rendered compatible with the stateâs general duty to punish the guilty? The chapter criticizes various proposals for reconciling excuse with the duty to punish the guilty, including the moral involuntariness theory, the concession to frailty (...) theory, and the conformity to moral expectation theory. It then proposes a solution: moral blamelessness exonerates because it simulates the conditions for legal exculpation. Just as the exculpated actor acknowledges the legal norm of mutual respect for agents, so does the excused actor acknowledge the public reason of the self-sufficient political community of which the legal norm is a part. The author argues that this theory would excuse the altruistic no less than the self-preferring murderer. (shrink)
Logical paradoxes in the strict sense produce statements like those of the Liar ("This very statement is false") that are false if true, and true if false. They resist rational solution or at least divide logicians for centuries of apparently irreconcilable wrangling. What happens when similar paradoxes arise in law?
John Rawls’s political liberalism and its ideal of public reason are tremendously influential in contemporary political philosophy and in constitutional law as well. Many, perhaps even most, liberals are Rawlsians of one stripe or another. This is problematic, because most liberals also support the redefinition of civil marriage to include same-sex unions, and as I show, Rawls’s political liberalism actually prohibits same- sex marriage. Recently in Perry v. Schwarzenegger, however, California’s northern federal district court reinterpreted the traditional rational basis (...) review in terms of liberal neutrality akin to Rawls’s “public reason,” and overturned Proposition 8 and established same-sex marriage. (This reinterpretation was amplified in the 9th Circuit Court’s decision upholding the district court on appeal in Perry v. Brown.) But on its own grounds Perry should have drawn the opposite conclusion. This is because all the available arguments for recognizing same-sex unions as civil marriages stem from controversial comprehensive doctrines about the good, and this violates the ideal of public reason; yet there remains a publicly reasonable argument for traditional marriage, which I sketch here. In the course of my argument I develop Rawls’s politically liberal account of the family by drawing upon work by J. David Velleman and H. L. A. Hart, and discuss the implications of this account for political theory and constitutional law. (shrink)
Through an analysis of the US Supreme Court's case Heller this paper argues that legal process can be pragmatically reconceptualized so as to create information necessary to decide complex social issues. This is in contrast to other more standard conceptions of law as more emphasizing what information ought to be excluded.
This book aims to distil the essentials of liberal constitutionalism from the jurisprudence and practice of contemporary liberal-democratic states. Most constitutional theorists have despaired of a liberal consensus on the fundamental goals of constitutional order. Instead they have contented themselves either with agreement on lower-level principles on which those who disagree on fundamentals may coincidentally converge, or, alternatively with a process for translating fundamental disgreement into acceptable laws. Alan Brudner suggests a conception of fundamental justice that liberals of (...) competing philosophic schools may accept as fulfilling their own basic commitments. He argues that the model liberal-democratic constitution is best understood as a unity of three constitutional frameworks: libertarian, egalitarian, and communitarian. Each of these has a particular conception of public reason. Brudner criticizes each of these frameworks insofar as its organizing conception claims to be fundamental, and moves forward to suggest an Hegelian conception of public reason within which each framework is contained as a constituent element of a whole. When viewed in this light, the liberal constitution embodies a surprising synthesis. It reconciles a commitment to individual liberty and freedom of conscience with the perfectionist idea that the state ought to cultivate a type of personality whose fundamental ends are the goods essential to dignity. Such a reconciliation, the author suggests, may attract competing liberalisms to a consensus on an inclusive conception of public reason under which political authority is validated for those who share a confidence in the individual's inviolable worth. (shrink)
The philosophical and natural law basis of the American order: remote and immediate ancestors -- The declaration and its constitution: linking first principle to necessary means -- A structurally-divided, but workable, government -- A limited government of enumerated power -- A government mindful of dual sovereignty -- A fair government -- A government commitment to freedom -- A government commitment to equality -- A government of imperfect knowledge of inkblots, liberty and life itself.
This is the second volume in a sub-series of specially commissioned collaborative volumes on key topics at the heart of contemporary philosophy of law that will be appearing regularly within Cambridge Studies in Philosophy and Law. A distinguished international team of legal theorists examine the issue of constitutionalism and pose such foundational questions as: why have a constitution? How do we know what the constitution of a country really is? How should a constitution be interpreted? Why should one generation feel (...) bound by the constitution of an earlier one? The volume will be of particular importance to those in philosophy, law, political science and international relations interested in what kinds of constitutions should be adopted in countries without them, and involved in debates about constitutional interpretation. (shrink)
The constitutional subject : singular, plural or universal? -- The constitutional subject and the clash of self and other : on the uses of negation, metaphor, and metonymy -- Reinventing tradition through constitutional interpretation : the case of unenumerated rights in the United States -- Recasting and reorienting identity through constitution-making : the pivotal case of Spain's 1978 Constitution -- Constitutional models : shaping, nurturing, and guiding the constitutional subject -- Models of constitution making -- (...) The constitutional subject and clashing visions of citizenship : can we be beyond what we are not? -- Can the constitutional subject go global? imagining a convergence of the universal, the particular, and the singular. (shrink)
The conundrum of the unconstitutional constitution -- The quest for a compelling unity -- The permeability of constitutional borders -- The sounds of silence : militant and acquiescent constitutionalism -- "The first page of the constitution" : family, state, and identity.
This book explores two basic questions regarding constitutional theory. First, in view of a commitment to democratic self-rule and widespread disagreement on questions of value, how is the creation of a legitimate constitutional regime possible? Second, what must be true about a constitution if the regime that it supports is to retain its claim to legitimacy? Howard Schweber shows that the answers to these questions appear in a theory of constitutional language that combines democratic theory with (...) class='Hi'>constitutional philosophy. The creation of a legitimate constitutional regime depends on a shared commitment to a particular and specialized form of language. Out of this simple observation, Schweber develops arguments about the characteristics of constitutional language, the necessary differences between constitutional language and the language of ordinary law or morality, as well as the authority of officials such as judges to engage in constitutional review of laws. (shrink)
Machine generated contents note: 1. Introduction; 2. Peace; 3. Rule of law; 4. Human rights; 5. Democracy; 6. Liberty; 7. The institutional ethos of the EU; 8. Towards the EU as a just institution; 9. Concluding proposals.
The purpose of this paper is to consider some aspects of the question of how difficult it should be to amend or change constitutional laws through formal amendment procedures. The point of departure of my discussion is an amendment procedure that has recently been suggested by the prominent legal and political philosopher Bruce Ackerman. He defends a three-step amendment procedure – where a re-elected president is authorised to propose amendments that must thereafter be approved first by a two-thirds majority (...) of the legislature, and then by a simple majority of the citizens at the next two presidential elections. I propose and defend an alternative amendment procedure that can be termed the four-step procedure. According to this procedure, the right to propose amendments is granted both to legislators and voters via citizen initiatives. Thereafter, the proposed amendments should be placed before the legislature, where they must be approved by a simple majority in two successive parliaments, and there must be an interval of no less than one year between the two votes. If passed by the legislative assembly, the amendment(s) should be approved by a simple majority of the electorate in a referendum. However, a submajority of the legislators (i.e. a one-third minority) should be empowered to require an additional referendum on the proposed amendment(s), and this final referendum should be held two years after the first popular vote. In order to assess the outlined amendment procedures, I primarily focus on the following factors or criteria of evaluation, which I group under three headings: (1) Central ideas and ideals in deliberative democratic theory and the fact of persistent disagreement in modern pluralist societies (this includes considerations of how well alternative amendment procedures deal with disagreement among citizens); (2) rule of law values, stability and flexibility; and (3) the value of checks and balances that can guard against the abuse of power (or more precisely, whether the amendment procedures under consideration provide adequate checks and balances between courts, political actors and citizens). (shrink)
Since constitutional arrangements are what make politics work, they are a central concern of political theory._This book, now completely updated, is the first comprehensive exploration of the political theory of constitutions. Jan-Erik Lane begins by examining the origins and history of constitutionalism and answers key questions such as: What is a constitution? Why are there constitutions? From where does constitutionalism originate? How is the constitutional state related to democracy and justice? Constitutions play a major role in domestic and (...) international politics in the early 21st century and an updated version of this classic textbook will introduce students to a number of different areas -- theoretical, empirical, and moral -- which will aid their understanding of this important topic. (shrink)
This paper, originally written for a conference on criminal law in times of emergency, considers the implications of the â€˜German Airliner caseâ€™ for criminal law theory. In that case, the German constitutional court struck down as unconstitutional a law empowering state officials to order the shooting down of a hijacked plane on the grounds that the state could not order the killing of innocent civilians. Some have argued that despite this ruling, individual officials should still be entitled to claim (...) a criminal law justification defence. I argue that the nature of justification defences necessarily ties them to the powers of the state to engage in such activity. I also argue that both the constitutional decision and its criminal law implications are salutary. (shrink)
-British constitutional monarchy.-British statesmen.-The parliamentary system of government.-The government of the third French republic.-Blackstone on the British constitution.-Burke and his Bristol constituency.-Burke and the French revolution.-The community and the church.
In The New Constitutionalism , seven distinguished scholars develop an innovative perspective on the power of institutions to shape politics and political life. Believing that constitutionalism needs to go beyond the classical goal of limiting the arbitrary exercise of political power, the contributors argue that it should--and can--be designed to achieve economic efficiency, informed democratic control, and other valued political ends. More broadly, they believe that political and social theory needs to turn away from the negativism of critical theory to (...) consider how a good society should be "constituted" and to direct the work of designing institutions that can constitute a "good polity," in both the economic and civic senses. Stephen L. Elkin and Karol Edward Soltan begin with an overview of constitutionalist theory and a discussion of the new constitutionalism within the broader intellectual and historical context of political and social thought. Charles Anderson, James Ceaser, and the editors then offer different interpretations of the central issues regarding institutional design in a constitutionalist social science, consider various ways of performing the task, and discuss the inadequacy of recent political science to the job it ought to be doing. The book concludes with essays by Ted Lowi, Cass Sunstein and Edwin Haefele which apply these themes to the American regime. (shrink)
Constituent power : the concept of a crisis -- Virtue and fortune : the machiavellian paradigm -- The Atlantic model and the theory of counterpower -- Political emancipation in the American constitution -- The revolution and the constitution of labor -- Communist desire and the dialectic restored -- The constitution of strength.
Kant's unduly neglected concept of cosmopolitan law suggests a third sphere of public law -- in addition to constitutional law and international law -- in which both states and individuals have rights, and where individuals have these rights as ‛citizens of the earth' rather than as citizens of particular states. I critically examine Kant's view of cosmopolitan law, discussing its addressees, content, justification, and institutionalization. I argue that Kant's conception of ‛world citizenship' is neither merely metaphorical nor dependent on (...) an ideal of a world-government. Kant's views are particularly relevant in light of recent shifts in international law, shifts that lead away from the view that individuals can only be subjects of international law insofar as they are citizens of particular states. Thereby, a category of rights has emerged that comes close to what Kant understands by cosmopolitan law. (shrink)
Fundamentalist forms of religion today claim authority everywhere, including the debates over the politics and constitutional law of liberal democracies. This book examines this general question through its critical evaluation of a recent school of thought: that of the new natural lawyers. The new natural lawyers are the lawyers of the current Vatical hierarchy, polemically concerned to defend its retrograde views on matters of sexuality and gender in terms of arguments that, in fact, notably lack the philosophical rigor of (...) the historical Thomism they claim to honor. The book critiques forms of fundamentalism and offers an original argument both for how they arose and why they are unreasonable in contemporary circumstances. (shrink)
Rights have become,in recent years, a significant concern of legal theorists, as well as of those involved in moral and political philosophy. This new book seeks to move a number of debates forward by developing the analysis of rights and focusing upon more general theoretical considerations relating to rights. The book is divided into five parts. The first includes an explanation of the part played by conceptual analysis within jurisprudence, while the second conducts a re-examination of Hohfeld’s analysis of rights. (...) This part deals with the arguments advanced by a number of modern theorists including Hart, White and MacCormick. The third part contains the author’s own framework for discussing rights, including examples drawn from tort, constitutional law and international law, together with an analysis of Unger’s theory of rights. Part four centres on the perceived conflict between Dworkin, Rawls and Nozick as the defenders of a rights approach, and Bentham as the champion of utilitarianism and concludes that neither deals with the fundamental concerns of morality on which their theories are based. The fifth part consists of a conclusion which reflects on the key themes and considers the role of rights within general theory. For students, particularly helpful features of the book are the overt consideration of jurisprudential methodology and the opportunity to examine a number of key theorists linked by their divergent views on the subject of rights. (shrink)
This paper deals with the particularities of vagueness in law. Thereby the question of the law’s capacity for vagueness is closely related to the question of the impact of vagueness in law, since exaggerated vagueness combined with the elasticity of legal interpretation methodology may affect the constitutional principles of legal certainty, the division of powers, and the binding force of statute. To represent vagueness and the instability of legal concepts and rules, a Hyperbola of Meaning is introduced, opposing Heck’s (...) metaphor of a core and a periphery of meaning. Furthermore, evidence is provided that the use of vague legal concepts and the capability of legal methodology to affect the specific meaning of those concepts, may give rise to astonishing and irrational changes of meaning of the law. Finally the paper sets out in search of an added value of vagueness in law, and weighs several stated pros and contras of vagueness. The paper is written against a background of the German speaking realm. (shrink)
Unit I. Fundamental characteristics of the common law. The source of law -- The jury -- The adversary system of trial -- Retroactivity: a return to stare decisis -- Unit II. The courts and their jurisdiction. Court systems in the United States -- Court system in England -- Unit III. Constitutional law. Judicial review -- Equal protection -- Freedom of speech -- Appendix I. Constitution of the United States -- Appendix II. Table of Supreme Court cases -- Appendix III. (...) Common case citations. (shrink)