Why we (still) need a revolution

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Goldoni, M. ; McCorkindale, C. (2013)
  • Publisher: German Law Journal

The revival of the political constitution has come about in parallel with two developments, one in constitutional practice and the other in political theory. With regard to the former, the political constitution has been seen as something of a bulwark against the rise of legal (or judicial, or common law) constitutionalism.  The seeming hegemony of this latter model of constitutionalism among contemporary lawyers and political scientists has produced from (so-called) political constitutionalists a reaction against the delegation of important decisions to non-political institutions and an obsessively court-centered scholarship.  Perceiving this shift in focus from political to legal institutions to be the very antithesis of the traditional Commonwealth (more particularly, of the United Kingdom’s parliamentary) model of constitutionalism, and, more broadly, to be an affront to democratic sensibilities, the notion of the political constitution was retrieved and defended in a seminal article in the 1979 edition of the Modern Law Review, written (though first delivered in his Chorley Lecture the previous year) by the late John Griffith.  More recently, in the work of Adam Tomkins, Richard Bellamy, and Grégoire Webber and Graham Gee, a normative interpretation has been lent to Griffith’s thesis so as to provide a full-fledged constitutional theory capable of standing as an alternative to the liberal-legal paradigm—a turn, one might say, from the political constitution to political constitutionalism.
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