The article deals with the question whether a state might be held liable for the infringement of constitutional law if its national court of last instance violates the obligation to make a reference for a preliminary ruling to the Court of Justice of the European Union under the conditions laid down in Article 267 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union and developed in the case-law of the Court. Relying on the well-established practice of the European (...) Court of Human Rights, which accepts that in theory an arbitrary decision not to refer a question for a preliminary ruling could infringe the right to a fair trial established in the ECHR, the author analyses whether constitutional courts of Germany, Czech Republic, Spain and Lithuania have elaborated the equivalent practice and if so, whether they have established any specific criteria that national courts are required to bring into play in order to substantiate the decision not to refer. (shrink)
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)
Four questions dominate normative contemporary constitutional theory: What is the purpose of a constitution? What makes a constitution legitimate? What kinds of arguments are legitimate within the process of constitutional interpretation? What can make judicial review of legislation legitimate in principle? The main purpose of this text is to provide one general answer to the last question. The secondary purpose is to show how this answer may bear upon our understanding of the fundamental basis of constitutional law. (...) These two purposes should suggest particular answers to the first three questions. (shrink)
The aim of the paper is that of discussing some recent antipositivist theses, with specific reference to the arguments that focus on the alleged incapability of legal positivism to understand and explain the complex normative structure of constitutional states. One of the central tenets of legal positivism (in its guise of ``methodological'' or ``conceptual'' positivism) is the theory of the separation between law and morality. On the assumption that in contemporary legal systems, constitutional law represents a point of (...) intersection between law and basic moral values, antipositivists contrast legal positivism with two main arguments. First, on a more general level, the positivist theory of the separation between law and morality is questioned; then, and consequently, the ``neutrality thesis'' in the juristic study of law is rejected. The author discusses both these antipositivist arguments, and offers a brief defence of methodological positivism. (shrink)
Under Article 63 of the Constitution, a gross violation of the Law on Elections to the Seimas is one of the grounds for discontinuation of the powers of the Member of the Seimas. The Constitution does not reveal expressis verbis as to what is a gross violation of the law on election. The establishment of this is within the discretion of the legislator. While defining what a gross violation of the Law on Elections to the Seimas is, the legislator is (...) bound by the norms and principles of the Constitution. Although the Constitution does not define expressis verbis as to what a gross violation of the law on election is, the fact that, under Item 6 of Article 63 of the Constitution, the powers of a Member of the Seimas shall cease on this ground, implies at least several things: first, not every violation of the law on election can be regarded as a gross one, thus, if the law on election has not been grossly violated, it is not permitted on this ground to recognise that the Member of the Seimas lost his mandate, or that the powers of the Member of the Seimas ceased; second, only such violations may be regarded as gross ones, upon commission of which there appear reasonable doubts whether during the election the genuine will of the voters was expressed, whether their will was not distorted to the extent that the results of the election do not reflect the genuine will of the voters and the mandates of Members of the Seimas have been distributed unfairly. (shrink)
There seems to be no clear consensus in the existing literature about the role of deontic logic in legal knowledge representation — in large part, we argue, because of an apparent misunderstanding of what deontic logic is, and a misplaced preoccupation with the surface formulation of legislative texts. Our aim in this paper is to indicate, first, which aspects of legal reasoning are addressed by deontic logic, and then to sketch out the beginnings of a methodology for its use (...) in the analysis and representation of law.The essential point for which we argue is that deontic logic — in some form or other —needs to be taken seriously whenever it is necessary to make explicit, and then reason about, the distinction between what ought to be the case and what is the case, or as we also say, between the ideal and the actual. We take the library regulations at Imperial College as the main illustration, and small examples from genuinely legal domains to introduce specific points. In conclusion, we touch on the role of deontic logic in the development of the theory of normative positions. (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)
The article discusses the certain features of the constitutional doctrine of human rights developed by the Constitutional Court of Lithuania which were influenced by the jurisprudence of the European Court of Human Rights, the role of the European Convention on Human Rights as a legal source in the system of sources of constitutional law. The intersection of the jurisprudences, which came into being due to different assessments of the legal regulation in cases where the same legal act (...) was recognized by the Constitutional Court being in compliance with the Constitution and the European Court of Human Rights recognized that the application of the said act was a cause of the violation of a certain person’s rights protected by the Convention (or vice versa) is one of the most important questions and raises many theoretical and practical problems. Different assessment of the legal acts made by the European Court of Human Rights with regard to their compliance with the Conventionshould not be regarded as such an essential circumstance which could lead to possible repeated review of such legal act at the Constitutional Court, such intersection of the jurisprudences, should be solved by ordinary courts while following the doctrine that in cases where legal acts contain the legal regulation which competes with that established in the international treaty, the international treaty should be applied. (shrink)
The article provides an analysis on how much the standard court proceedings can be regarded as the research, which is performed by investigating by what manner and measures the justice in a procedural sense is implemented. It is generally acknowledged that the court, as a subject, solving a legal dispute, implements justice only in the case, when it ensures the impartiality towards all persons. The appropriate legal proceedings form a constituent part of the constitutional right to apply in the (...) court. The article aims at introducing certain aspects of the implementation of the principle of justice in the court proceedings of Lithuania. It is indicated that the lack of legal methodology results in different arguments of the rendered decisions and their unpredictability, therefore, it does not encourage to opt for the legal peace. The article is topical in a sense that it has not provided an analysis, on which the aspects of impartiality reveal themselves in the nowadays case law in particular cases and how it produces an effect on the approach to justice. In Lithuania, doctrinal presumptions were created for the freedom of the courts, upon which the courts started to formulate new procedural regulations. The freedom of the actions of judges is based on the aim to ensure a stronger safety in regard to the rights pertaining to one of the public groups, i.e. to disallow the domination of certain subjects over the others by eliminating inequality between the parties. The freedom of the actions of judges is also justified by the aim to render the right decision. However, the formulation of the new regulations according to the actual situation by too freely interpreting the norm of the proceedings, without having the doctrinal basis for that, causes the legal confusion, thus inconsistency in the case law appears, the inner contradictions arise and, in addition to that, there is a failure to follow the standard of impartiality. The individualisation of each legal dispute pursuant to the newly established procedural regulations creates the presumptions for legal instability. Upon the absence of doctrinal substantiation for the newly formulated procedural regulations, the risk arises for the courts to unduly avail of the competence granted to them, thus there will be no implementation of the justice attained. The approach, based on the demand for an individual safety, encourages to refuse the regulations, which are universally applied. Such conception of justice is characteristic for legal individualism, which is grounded in consumerism, by means of which the standard court proceedings are refused, while the extended sympathy theory becomes the starting point. The comprehension and observance of the legal methodology is one of the conditions for the development of the consistent case law. The presence of a clear method in the case law will allow to prevent from pursuing different legal conceptions, i.e. different reasoning of a court decision upon the similar circumstances, as well as it will prevent from speculating on the accepted legal position by refusing the legal argument. (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)
The article deals with problems of the doctrine of reinterpretation of constitutional provisions, which are settled in the constitutional jurisprudence on correction of the official constitutional doctrine. This correction is typical or constitutional jurisprudence of most countries’. Under the Constitution, only the Constitutional Court enjoys the power to construe the Constitution officially. Official constitutional doctrine is to be developed in the acts of Constitutional Court gradually, disclosing new aspects of it, and supplementing it. (...) The development of constitutional jurisprudence law in some cases involves correction of the official constitutional doctrine. (shrink)
The Swiss Confederation is characterised by a long constitutional evolution that can be divided into several important periods: the Old Swiss Confederacy (13–14 C.), Helvetica (1798–1848), Mediation (1803–1814), Restoration (1815–1830), Regeneration (1830–1848) and development since 1874. It can be stated that Switzerland adopted a modern, democratic constitution early; this state is the oldest democratic republic in Europe. In 1874, many amendments to the effective Constitution were made and a lot of gaps in legal regulation came to light, which led (...) to the opinion that in order to remove those shortcomings, a few specific amendments were no longer sufficient; therefore, it was decided to make substantial changes to the Constitution. The new Constitution was approved by the people and the cantons in the referendum of 18 April 1999 and came into effect on 1 January 2000. The most significant features of this Constitution include the entrenchment of the principles of democracy, federalism, and of the state of law and social welfare. Pursuant to the principle of division of governmental powers, the governing of the state is carried out by the following federal institutions: the Federal Assembly, the Bundesrat and the Federal Court. (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 contribution aims to explain how European Criminal Law can be understood as constitutive of European identity. Instead of starting from European identity as a given, it provides a philosophical analysis of the construction of self-identity in relation to criminal law and legal tradition. The argument will be that the self-identity of those that share jurisdiction depends on and nourishes the legal tradition they adhere to and develop, while criminal jurisdiction is of crucial importance in this process of mutual constitution. (...) This analysis will be complemented with a discussion of the integration of the first and the third pillar as aimed for by the Constitutional Treaty (TE), which would bring criminal law under majority rule and European democratic control. Attention will be paid to two ground breaking judgements of the European Court of Justice (ECJ) that seem to boil down to the fact that the Court actually manages to achieve some of the objectives of the CT even if this is not in force. This gives rise to a discussion of how the CT (and related judgements of the ECJ) may transform European criminal law in the Union to EU criminal law of the Union, thus producing an identity of the Union next to the identities prevalent in the Union. The contribution concludes with some normative questions about the kind of European identity we should aim to establish, given the fact that such identity will arise with further integration of criminal law into the first pillar. (shrink)
This article focuses on the analysis of the main positions of the Constitutional Court of the Republic of Lithuania in the cases of intellectual property law. In the article three judgments and the positions of the Constitutional Court extracted therefrom are analysed. The Constitutional Court has formed several important positions with reference to intellectual property law regarding usage of property protection norms for the protection of intellectual property, requirements of application of compensation as an alternative to damages (...) compensation and the calculation of criterions thereof as well as functional legal protection of trademarks. It should be noted that Article 23(1) of the Constitution of the Republic of Lithuania has extended protection to property and, as the Constitutional Court of the Republic of Lithuania has noted, the constitutional protection of property covers not only the protection of tangible, but also of intellectual property. In the same judgment, the Constitutional Court stated another important intellectual property related rule, namely that constitutionally established property protection rights have to be implemented regardless of whether a corresponding international treaty has not been ratified, as protection of authors’ rights is granted under Articles 23 and 42(3) of the Constitution of the Republic of Lithuania. However, the second position stating that the rights of foreign subjects are to be implemented even though a corresponding international treaty has not been signed is to be criticised as by coming to such a conclusion the Constitutional Court has ignored the otherwise generally recognised principle of territoriality of intellectual property rights. In two other cases the Constitutional Court has made important statements relevant to intellectual property law. First of all, the Court stated that compensation instead of claiming actual damages is constitutional. By analysing the positions formulated by the Court, an indirect conclusion can be made to the effect that compensation instead of claiming actual damages is necessary in order to ensure effective protection of intellectual property rights. In other words, the purposes of compensation can be recognised: restoring (compensating) the infringed interests of the injured party; simplifying judicial proceedings, whereby faster proceedings (litigation) and easier substantiation is sought; and the preventive purpose (strong preventive effect). However, the Court’s argument regarding the criterion of compensation calculation, saying that the damages incurred by the intellectual property rights owner depend on the sale value of the product concerned is criticisable, as it is rarely the case that the licence fee or profit acquired in the result of unauthorised use of intellectual property objects is calculated with reference to the final sale price of the product. Notwithstanding the arguably weak argument of the Court, the Court’s position regarding the criterion of final sale price itself does not preclude the possibility of reaching a fair final decision. Finally, the Court acknowledged that trademark protection was limited to the economic functions of the trademark and the full protection thereof. (shrink)
In an effort at ethical reform, Taiwan recently revised the Hospice Palliative Care Law authorising family members or physicians to make surrogate decisions to discontinue life-sustaining treatment if an incompetent terminally ill patient did not express their wishes while still competent. In particular, Article 7 of the new law authorises the palliative care team, namely the physicians, to act as sole decision-makers on behalf of the incompetent terminally ill patient's best interests if no family member is available. However, the law (...) fails to provide guidance as to what constitutes the patient's best interests or what specific procedures the treating physicians should follow, and so has raised constitutional concerns. It may be difficult to translate ethical reform into law but it is not impossible if essential requirements are carefully followed. First, there must be substantial nexus between the purpose of the statute and the measures provided under the statute. Second, advocates need to convince the public that futility or waste has amounted to a public health emergency so as to justify lower procedural requirements. Third, a remedy or compensation should be available if the surrogate decisions have not been appropriately made. Fourth, minimum procedural safeguards are necessary even though the statute is intended to reduce the procedural burdens of making surrogate decisions on behalf of incompetent patients who lack family members and did not express their wishes while still competent. (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)
Maurice Hauriou (1856-1929) -- Methodology -- Hauriou's general methodology -- Legal methodology -- Sociological methodolgy -- Methodological interplay of law and social science -- Application of methodology to large groups -- Philosophical methodology -- The philosophical status of Hauriou's methodology.
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.
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?
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)
This article engages two fundamentally different kinds of so-called natural law arguments in favor of specific moral absolutes: Elizabeth Anscombe's claim that certain actions are known to be intrinsically wrong through intuition (or mystical perceptions), and John Finnis's claim that such actions are known to be wrong because they involve acting directly against a basic human good. Both authors maintain, for example, that murder and contraceptive sexual acts are known to be wrong, always and everywhere, through their respective epistemological lens. (...) This article uses the counter-example of anesthesia to challenge these two approaches to substantiating natural law claims. The paper concludes by rejecting the view shared by Professors Finnis and Anscombe that once one rejects these foundations for moral absolutes, one is left with moral subjectivism. In fact, one is left with moral absolutes of a more restricted nature, which are known philosophically, and with more robust moral absolutes held on religious grounds. Virtues are needed in the moral life, among other reasons, because such norms require discernment and integrity for their correct application. (shrink)
Lawyers pretend as if the process of application of laws, as well as its outcome, could be an analytic-deductive derivation; especially law students learn that legal decision-making is primarily a logic process. But we know that application of laws depends on analytic-logical as well as on voluntaristic (wilful) elements. Exact relations between these components are unknown and will be unknown. At most German law schools students as the most important imperative tool learn the so called “Auslegung” through the use of (...) theoretical instruments, which do not reflect the interpretation of law practice. These mentioned causes result in irrationality of legal decision-making. In order to achieve more rationality in the process and result of legal decision-making, the contribution makes four suggestions regarding legal methodology and legal education. These proposals consist of few long-term pragmatic approaches to more rationality of legal decision-making. (shrink)
The main subject of the present research is the enforcement of the European Union law in the domestic legal order. This topic was chosen considering the Treaty of Lisbon amending the Treaty on the European Union and the Treaty establishing the European Community and especially its declaration No. 17 on primacy of EU law. This article will explain the meaning of primacy of the European Union law and the resulting problems in some EU Member States, as well as possible solutions (...) to tackle the problems. The primacy of the European Union law over the national law was recognised as one of the constitutive principles of the European Union. The article includes relevant provisions of the Lisbon Treaty that deal with the rules concerning the legal requirements of the primacy of the European Union law in the EU primary law. The European Court of Justice has developed the meaning of the principle of primacy, which means that the European Union law should take precedence over national law (even over constitutional provisions) and should there be any conflicts between EU law and national law, every national court is obliged to apply the law of the European Union. The main issue of this article is analysing the principle of primacy of the European Union law over the Lithuanian law. (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)
Can there be a theory of law? -- Two views of the nature of the theory of law : a partial comparison -- On the nature of law -- The problem of authority : revisiting the service conception -- About morality and the nature of law -- Incorporation by law -- Reasoning with rules -- Why interpret? -- Interpretation without retrieval -- Intention in interpretation -- Interpretation : pluralism and innovation -- On the authority and interpretation of constitutions : some (...) preliminaries -- Postema on law's autonomy and public practical reasons : a critical comment. (shrink)
Presupposition is the semantic-pragmatic phenomenon whereby a statement contains an implicit precondition that must be taken for granted (presupposed) for that statement to be felicitous. This article discusses the role of presupposition in legislative texts, using examples from Swiss constitutional and administrative law. It illustrates (a) how presuppositions are triggered in these texts and (b) what functions they come to serve, placing special emphasis on their constitutive power. It also demonstrates (c) how legislative drafters can distinguish between “good” presuppositions (...) and “bad” presuppositions by weighing their main advantage, conciseness, against their main flaw, reduced transparency. The present study argues that, if employed carefully, presuppositions can be a useful stylistic means to keep legislative texts free from unnecessary clutter that merely elaborates on the obvious; however, it also suggests that, if applied wrongly, presuppositions can camouflage the duties and obligations placed on the subjects of a law and thus impede its accessibility and its efficient and effective implementation. (shrink)
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.
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)
Central to the freedom of association is the freedom to exclude. In fact, American constitutional law permits associations to discriminate on otherwise prohibited grounds, a principle of expressive discrimination or what I call "expressive exclusion." However, we lack a complete normative defense of it. Too often, expressive exclusion is justifi ed as a simple case of religious accommodation, or a simple case of freedom of association or speech—justifi cations that are defi cient. I argue that expressive exclusion is essential (...) in creating genuine space for democratic dissent. It stands at the intersection of speech, association, and democracy. (shrink)