The UK Constitution and Brexit – Five Brief External Observations

As a constitutional lawyer one therefore cannot help but ask: What is happening to the British Constitution? What is going on with the political and parliamentary culture of a nation so proud of its parliamentary history? And what about the Queen? In the following, I would therefore like to share five very brief and somewhat unsystematic observations of these recent developments from a German perspective.

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Zivile Seenotrettung vor deutschen Gerichten

Während die deutsche Politik und Öffentlichkeit mit dem Finger auf Italien und auch Malta und ihre Politik der geschlossenen Häfen zeigen, beschäftigte sich im Schatten der medialen Aufmerksamkeit auch die deutsche Verwaltungsgerichtsbarkeit mit einem Fall ziviler Seenotrettung und Menschenrechtsbeobachtung. Er zeigt, dass die deutsche Rolle im Umgang mit ziviler Seenotrettung nicht ganz so vorbildlich ist, wie sie nach außen hin gespielt wird.

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Advertising: Global Constitutionalism (Journal)

Volume 8, Issue 2

July 2019


Global Constitutionalism

Human Rights, Democracy and the Rule of Law

  • Reactive vs structural approach: A public law response to populism
  • Glocalised constitution-making in the twenty-first century: Evidence from Asia

Acquiescing in Refoulement

The judgment of the US Supreme Court issued on Wednesday (Attorney General v. East Bay Sanctuary Covenant) purports to be simply procedural: It overturns a lower court injunction that prevented President Trump’s unilateral “safe third country” rule from coming into force before its legality is tested on the merits. But in truth, the Supreme Court knowingly acquiesced in the refoulement of refugees arriving at the US southern border.

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Demokratische Miet-Bestimmung

Selten bekommt ein Gesetzesentwurf des Berliner Senats wohl so viel Aufmerksamkeit, wie in den letzten Wochen der sog. „Mietendeckel“. Die Reaktionen auf den Referentenentwurf ließen nicht lange auf sich warten: Ungerecht, Enteignung, Planwirtschaft. Opposition und Verbände kündigen Verfassungsklagen an. Auch Ex-BVerfG-Präsident Papier attestiert dem Vorstoß in einem Gutachten im Auftrag des Bundesverbandes deutscher Wohnungsunternehmen (GdW) die Verfassungswidrigkeit. Tatsächlich handelt es sich letztlich jedoch nicht um eine Frage der Verfassung, sondern demokratischer Auseinandersetzung.

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Norway’s Heureka Moment?

Norwegian elections are usually quite boring. While the government changes between different parties, the party structure has been remarkably stable for more than 80 years. And for decades, constitutional lawyers have been denied juicy electoral scandals. The electoral system runs smoothly without major hiccups. Monday’s local election brought at last a glimmer of excitement for Norwegian constitutional lawyers. Not only did a newly-formed protest movement shake up the traditional party landscape. It also came to light that Norway’s public broadcaster attempted to manipulate students in the non-official school election.

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Recognizing Court-Packing

There is near scholarly consensus that President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has successfully packed the Turkish Constitutional Court (TCC). Court packing is commonly understood as expanding the membership of the court, appointing judges with long tenures that extend beyond a couple of election cycles, and who are ideologically committed to the executive’s constitutional vision. These elements, however, are still foreign to Turkey’s political elites.

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Fighting Fire with Fire

At the first sight, the likely nomination of Věra Jourova as Commissioner for rule of law and dropping Frans Timmermans out of the portfolio appears to be a significant victory for the Visegrad Group. However, considering Jourova’s track record, her nomination might be a clever, but hazardous move by Ursula von der Leyen that may deepen the cleavage among the Visegrad countries, put an end to their coordinated acting in sovereignty related issues, and cause more headache in Budapest and Warsaw than expected.

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The Commission’s Rule of Law Blueprint for Action: A Missed Opportunity to Fully Confront Legal Hooliganism

In its first Communication entitled “Further strengthening the Rule of Law within the Union” published on 3 April 2019, the Commission offered a useful overview of the state of play while also positively inviting all stakeholders to make concrete proposals so as to enhance the EU’s “rule of law toolbox”. A follow up Communication from July 2019 sets out multiple “concrete actions for the short and medium term”. This post will highlight the most innovative actions proposed by the Commission before highlighting what we view as the main weakness of its blueprint: a reluctance to fully accept the reality of rule of law backsliding.

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