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Changing the United Kingdom Constitution: The Blind Sovereign

Sovereignty and the Law: Domestic, European and International Perspectives, Richard Rawlings, Peter Leyland and Alison Young eds., Oxford University Press, 2013

24 Pages Posted: 9 Aug 2012 Last revised: 24 Jan 2014

Richard S. Kay

University of Connecticut School of Law

Date Written: October 24, 2013

Abstract

The traditional doctrine of the sovereignty of Parliament in the United Kingdom is being transformed. The change is the cumulative result of a series of legislative acts, judicial decisions, statements of officials and academic opinions. This paper is not directed to the extent or to the propriety of this change. It examines rather the process by which it has been effected. In most of the world, wholesale constitutional revision is an event. It takes place in a defined period of time and is the work of an identifiable group of people. The striking thing about the changes in the UK constitution is that they are almost universally regarded as arising from a series of uncoordinated events by different actors. The new constitution has not been designed; it has been revealed over time, the work of a “blind” sovereign. I survey these developments, contrast them with constitutional orthodoxy elsewhere and, finally, qualify the comparison by raising doubts about the accuracy of the standard model of constitution-making.

Suggested Citation

Kay, Richard S., Changing the United Kingdom Constitution: The Blind Sovereign (October 24, 2013). Sovereignty and the Law: Domestic, European and International Perspectives, Richard Rawlings, Peter Leyland and Alison Young eds., Oxford University Press, 2013. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2126651

Richard S Kay (Contact Author)

University of Connecticut School of Law ( email )

65 Elizabeth Street
Hartford, CT 06105
United States
860-570-5262 (Phone)

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