South African Constitutional Jurisprudence: The First Fifteen Years

Posted: 14 Nov 2010

See all articles by D.M. Davis

D.M. Davis

University of Cape Town (UCT)

Date Written: December 2010


South Africa became a constitutional democracy in 1994. This article reviews the first 15 years of constitutional jurisprudence produced by the country's first Constitutional Court. While the court interpreted the Constitution to eradicate racist, sexist, and homophobic legislation and similar common law rules, it did little to promote a comprehensive transformation of the legal system and thus the patterns of distribution that were supported by the law. This is illustrated particularly in the area of social and economic rights. The conclusion is thus reached that the new legal foundations are insufficiently resilient to hold the weight of constitutional expectation.

Suggested Citation

Davis, D.M., South African Constitutional Jurisprudence: The First Fifteen Years (December 2010). Annual Review of Law and Social Science, Vol. 6, pp. 285-300, 2010, Available at SSRN: or

D.M. Davis (Contact Author)

University of Cape Town (UCT) ( email )

Private Bag X3
Rondebosch, Western Cape 7701
South Africa

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