Constitutional Change

by Dr.iur. Jānis Pleps, Docent at the University of Latvia. The practice of the Constitutional Court of Latvia and the verities of the theory of constitutional law clearly mark the most essential fundamental values of the statehood of Latvia. The Court acknowledged that ‘the State of Latvia is based on the core values that among other include the fundamental human rights and personal freedoms, democracy, sovereignty of state and people, division of authority and rule of law. The state is obliged to guarantee these values, and they cannot be infringed by the statutory amendments to the Constitution.’ (Case no. 2008-35-01)
by Thomas Fleiner On November 30, the Swiss voters and the cantons had to decide on three popular initiatives. They rejected all three initiatives with 60 to 78% of voters. The participation of voters was 48%. Sixty percent of the voters and almost all cantons rejected the popular initiative for economic justice for taxpayers. The initiative proposed a new article in the constitution, which required that all people living in Switzerland have to pay taxes according to their economic performance.
by Brian Ray, Cleveland-Marshall College of Law Cross-post from I•CONnect blog (http://www.iconnectblog.com/2014/11/brian-ray-review-icon-debate-socio-economic-rights/). The recent exchange between Professor David Bilchitz and Professors Xenophon Contiades and Alkmene Fotiadou in ICON’s pages over how courts should enforce social rights during times of economic crisis illustrates the decisive—and refreshing—shift away from the justiciability questions that long have dominated the comparative constitutional law discussion.
by Giammaria Milani, PhD Candidate, University of Siena. The constitutional revision bill approved by the Italian Senate on August 8, 2014 deals with an issue that has resurfaced cyclically in the Italian political debate: the revision of Part II of the Italian Constitution, dedicated to the form of government and the relationship between the State and the Regions. At least since the early 1980s, several attempts have been made to amend the Constitution, but only once (2001) these have been successful, providing for an extensive revision of the State-Regions relationship.
by Yaniv Roznai. Many constitutions, old and modern, include various substantive limitations on the ability to amend the constitution. According to these limitations certain principles, institutions or rules are ‘unamendable’. In other words, their amendment would be prohibited. Most of the world’s unamendable provisions are non-self-entrenched provisions, i.e. they establish the unamendability of certain constitutional subjects but they are themselves not entrenched. Can non-self-entrenched provisions be amended? As a matter of practice, the answer is positive.
by George Tsebelis & Dominic J. Nardi, Jr. Being part of the acceptance speech delivered by Professor George Tsembelis following the bestowal of an honorary PhD by the University of Crete the following extract draws upon his seminal “veto player” theory to address the relationship between bad constitutional design, amendment rate and poverty. Constitutions are typically amended after extraordinary procedures. These high hurdles of approval and modification guarantee that the constitution at the moment of adoption or modification is located in the “constitutional core” of a country. The “core” of a political system is a technical term referring to the set of points that cannot be upset by some specified majoritarian procedure. So, the “constitutional core” means the document that cannot be replaced by any other under the existing requirements for constitutional revision.
by Thomas Fleiner. On September 28, the Swiss voters and the cantons had to decide on two popular initiatives. They rejected both. The first popular initiative proposed a new constitutional provision, which set up a single, public and unitary health insurance with administrative decentralization. The proponents argued that there is no real competition among the existing different health insurances, that despotic insurance companies waste money with their income of premiums, that the explosion of raising insurance rates must be stopped.
by Michèle Finck In studies of constitutional law in general and constitutional change in particular, the focus often lies on the national level. With the exception of a number of decentralized States, constitutions are national documents, sometimes even playing a unifying role in otherwise diverse countries. Constitutions being national documents, the assumption that constitutional change is a centralized process comes naturally. A number of processes that lead to constitutional change indeed occur on a national scale, such as debates in the context of a national convention or a decision of a national constitutional court.
by Professor John R. Ville, Middle Tennessee State University. I have spent much of my academic life researching the constitutional amending process in the United States. My very first book Rewriting the U.S. Constitution: An Examination of Proposal from Reconstruction to the Present (1991) detailed approximately 40 proposals that individuals had offered from the period of Reconstruction through the publishing of the book in 1991 to either rewrite the U.S. Constitution or introduce a series of major changes to it. In the interim, I had been documenting additional proposals as individual entries for various editions of my Encyclopedia of Constitutional Amendments, Proposed Amendments, and Amending Issues. However, it was only in revisiting the subject for my book Re-Framers: 170 Eccentric, Visionary, and Patriotic Proposals to Rewrite the U.S. Constitution (ABC—CLIO, 2014) that I realized how significantly the number of such proposals had proliferated, particularly in the last two decades.
by John McEldowney The referendum held in Scotland on 18th September 2014 on Scottish independence is a significant event that will prove to be of major constitutional significance for the United Kingdom as well as for the devolved administrations in Wales, Northern Ireland and London for years to come. The NO vote in favour of the 307 year old Union gained a comfortable 55% majority over the YES, in favour of independence of 45%. Electoral turn-out was one of the highest seen in the UK at over 85% of the electorate. In the East Darbartonshire constituency the turnout was 91%. Sixteen year olds were given the vote for the first time.

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