The Formalist Resistance to Unconstitutional Constitutional Amendments

32 Pages Posted: 26 Jun 2018 Last revised: 3 Apr 2024

See all articles by Richard Albert

Richard Albert

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

Malkhaz Nakashidze

Batumi Shota Rustaveli State University - School of Law; Boston College Law School

Tarik Olcay

University of Dundee - Dundee Law School

Date Written: June 13, 2018

Abstract

Many courts around the world have either asserted or exercised the power to invalidate a constitutional amendment. But we should not take the increasing prevalence of the doctrine of unconstitutional constitutional amendment as evidence of its appropriateness for all constitutional states. It is imperative that constitutional actors know that there is another answer to the question whether an amendment can be unconstitutional. We have three purposes in this Article, and we seek to fulfill each of them with reference to three jurisdictions in particular—France, Georgia and Turkey—whose constitutions and attendant constitutional practices have expressly rejected the doctrine in a way that reflects what we describe as their shared formalist resistance to the doctrine of unconstitutional constitutional amendment. We seek first to demonstrate that the doctrine of unconstitutional constitutional amendment has not yet matured into a global norm of constitutionalism. We seek also to explain how a jurisdiction that expressly rejects the idea of an unconstitutional constitutional amendment operates in the face an amendment that would otherwise be invalidated as unconstitutional in a jurisdiction that has adopted the doctrine. We finally seek to evaluate what is gained and lost in a constitutional state by rejecting the doctrine of unconstitutional constitutional amendment. We find that there are both democracy-enhancing and democracy-weakening features that follow from the choice to reject the doctrine outright. Our larger purpose is inherent in the project itself: to diversify our thinking about what risks becoming seen as a necessary feature of constitutionalism but that design and practice show plainly is not.

Keywords: Constitutional Amendment, Unconstitutional Constitutional Amendment, French Constitution, Georgian Constitution, Turkish Constitution, Formalism, Positivism, Formal Amendment, Informal Amendment, Constitutional Change, Conseil Constitutionnel

Suggested Citation

Albert, Richard and Nakashidze, Malkhaz and Olcay, Tarik, The Formalist Resistance to Unconstitutional Constitutional Amendments (June 13, 2018). 70 Hastings Law Journal 636 (2019), U of Texas Law, Public Law Research Paper, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3195059

Richard Albert (Contact Author)

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

727 East Dean Keeton Street
Austin, TX 78705
United States
617-756-2622 (Phone)

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

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

College of Liberal Arts
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United States

Université Paris II - Panthéon-Assas ( email )

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Paris cedex 06, 75231
France

Universidad de Especialidades Espíritu Santo ( email )

Facultad de Derecho
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Samborondón, 092301
Ecuador

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

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

São Paulo Law School of Fundação Getulio Vargas FGV DIREITO SP

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

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

University of Toronto - Faculty of Law ( email )

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Toronto, Ontario M5S 2C5
Canada

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

University of Ottawa - Faculty of Law ( email )

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Ottawa, Ontario K1N 6N5
Canada

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

Reichman University - Interdisciplinary Center (IDC) Herzliyah - Harry Radziner School of Law ( email )

P.O. Box 167
Herzliya, 46150
Israel

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

Airlangga University

Dharmawangsa Dalam Selatan
Surabaya, East Java 60286
Indonesia

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

Yale University

493 College St
New Haven, CT CT 06520
United States

Maharashtra National Law University Mumbai ( email )

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

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

Malkhaz Nakashidze

Batumi Shota Rustaveli State University - School of Law ( email )

35 Ninoshvili str.
Batumi, Adjara 6010
Georgia

HOME PAGE: https://bsu.edu.ge http://www.malkhaz-nakashidze.com

Boston College Law School ( email )

140 Commonwealth Avenue
Chestnut Hill, MA 02467
United States

HOME PAGE: http://https://www.bc.edu/bc-web/schools/law.html

Tarik Olcay

University of Dundee - Dundee Law School ( email )

Scrymgeour Building
Park Place
Dundee, DD1 4HN
United Kingdom

HOME PAGE: http://dundee.ac.uk/people/tarik-olcay

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