The Theory and Doctrine of Unconstitutional Constitutional Amendment in Canada

64 Pages Posted: 24 Aug 2015 Last revised: 4 Jan 2022

See all articles by Richard Albert

Richard Albert

University of Texas at Austin - School of Law; University of Texas at Austin - Department of Government; Yale University; University of Toronto - Faculty of Law; São Paulo Law School of Fundação Getulio Vargas FGV DIREITO SP; University of Ottawa - Faculty of Law; Universidad Externado de Colombia - Facultad de Derecho; Interdisciplinary Center (IDC) Herzliyah - Radzyner School of Law; Universidad de Especialidades Espíritu Santo; Airlangga University; Maharashtra National Law University Mumbai

Date Written: August 23, 2015

Abstract

It has become increasingly common for courts in constitutional democracies to invalidate constitutional amendments. Courts have enforced both written and unwritten limits on how political actors may exercise the formal amendment power. They have relied either on constitutional texts that expressly entrench provisions against formal amendment or on their own interpretation of these texts as implicitly establishing an unalterable constitutional core. Although the Supreme Court of Canada has not yet invalidated a constitutional amendment, modern case law provides the constitutional basis for the Court to declare that a future constitutional amendment violates either the text or spirit of the Constitution of Canada. In this Article, I trace the origins and evolution of the theory and doctrine of unconstitutional constitutional amendment, I explain how the theory and doctrine may apply today in Canada, and I suggest a detailed framework to evaluate when and how the Supreme Court of Canada may exercise the extraordinary residual constitutional authority to invalidate a constitutional amendment.

Keywords: Constitutional Amendment, Unconstitutional Constitutional Amendment, Basic Structure Doctrine, Formal Amendment, Informal Amendment, Constitution of Canada, Indian Constitution, Amendment Difficulty, Supreme Court of Canada, Constitutional Interpretation

Suggested Citation

Albert, Richard, The Theory and Doctrine of Unconstitutional Constitutional Amendment in Canada (August 23, 2015). 41 Queen's Law Journal 143 (2016), Boston College Law School Legal Studies Research Paper No. 376, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2649447

Richard Albert (Contact Author)

University of Texas at Austin - School of Law ( email )

727 East Dean Keeton Street
Austin, TX 78705
United States
512.213.1113 (Phone)

HOME PAGE: http://law.utexas.edu/faculty/richard-albert

University of Texas at Austin - Department of Government ( email )

College of Liberal Arts
1 University Station A1800
Austin, TX 78712
United States

Yale University

493 College St
New Haven, CT CT 06520
United States

University of Toronto - Faculty of Law ( email )

78 and 84 Queen's Park
Toronto, Ontario M5S 2C5
Canada

HOME PAGE: http://www.law.utoronto.ca

São Paulo Law School of Fundação Getulio Vargas FGV DIREITO SP

R. Rocha, 233, Bela Vista
São Paulo, 01330-000
Brazil

HOME PAGE: http://https://direitosp.fgv.br

University of Ottawa - Faculty of Law ( email )

57 Louis Pasteur Street
Ottawa, Ontario K1N 6N5
Canada

HOME PAGE: http://commonlaw.uottawa.ca

Universidad Externado de Colombia - Facultad de Derecho

Calle 12 # 1-17 este
Calle 12 0 83
Bogota D.C, Cundinamarca 3456
Colombia

HOME PAGE: http://www.uexternado.edu.co/derecho

Interdisciplinary Center (IDC) Herzliyah - Radzyner School of Law ( email )

P.O. Box 167
Herzliya, 46150
Israel

HOME PAGE: http://www.idc.ac.il/en/schools/law/pages/home.aspx

Universidad de Especialidades Espíritu Santo ( email )

Facultad de Derecho
Av. Samborondón 5
Samborondón, 092301
Ecuador

HOME PAGE: http://uees.edu.ec/postgrado/postgrado-derecho

Airlangga University

Dharmawangsa Dalam Selatan
Surabaya, East Java 60286
Indonesia

HOME PAGE: http://www.unair.ac.id

Maharashtra National Law University Mumbai ( email )

2nd Floor, CETTM MTNL Building, Technology Street
Hiranandani Gardens, Powai, Mumbai 400076
Maharashtra
India

HOME PAGE: http://https://mnlumumbai.edu.in/vaf.php

Do you have a job opening that you would like to promote on SSRN?

Paper statistics

Downloads
409
Abstract Views
2,318
rank
106,075
PlumX Metrics