The Debate on Constitutional Courts and Their Authority between Legal and Political Constitutionalism

Philosophica Critica 2 (2):47-70 (2016)

Valerio Fabbrizi
Università degli Studi "Tor Vergata" (Roma)
The paper is focused on the criticisms that theorists of political constitutionalism raise against legal constitutionalism, especially with regard to the idea of representation and political sovereignty. At the same time, the intention is to reconstruct the debate between legal and political constitutionalism in contemporary liberalism, starting from the so-called counter-majoritarian difficulty. This debate concerns two different approaches: the political one rejects the idea of judicial review by the Supreme Court because it may establish a possible rule of the judges (Michelman; Dworkin). It defends the role of Parliament in constitutional matters, in contrast with the role of the Supreme Court, inasmuch as – according to them – it is not open to political participation. Parliament is considered the only place in which we can exercise our constitutional power and in which our rights could be adequately protected (Bellamy; Waldron; Tushnet; Goldoni). On the other hand, legal constitutionalism upholds the idea of judicial review, defending the role of the Supreme Court as “exemplar of public reason” (Rawls 1993). This article tries to answer to three fundamental questions about constitutional democracy under the banner of political liberalism: 1. What do we mean by counter-majoritarian difficulty? 2. What is the answer that legal and political model of constitutionalism give to this question? 3. What is the role of constitutional courts in democratic regimes and what is their authority within the State?
Keywords Political Constitutionalism  Legal Constitutionalism  Judicial Review  Supreme Court  Counter-majoritarian difficulty
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