POSTS BY Teresa Violante

Coping with Covid-19 in Portugal: From Constitutional Normality to the State of Emergency

As we write this report, it is unclear how the Covid-19 outbreak will unfold in Portugal. The country reacted quickly to adopt measures aimed at reducing social contact, including the closure of schools and a general ban on non-essential movement. Whether that will prove efficient to avoid the collapse of the national health system and prevent thousands of deaths, only time will tell. In this contribution, we describe and reflect on the action taken by public powers to address the Covid-19 pandemic, considering the situation as of April 9.

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Between Legislative Defiance and Legal Security

In Portugal, a recent decision of the Constitutional Court rejected another legislative attempt to implement a successful system of surrogacy. For the first time in its 26-year history, the Court faced legislative defiance of its previous case law, but asserted its role as the ultimate interpreter of the Constitution with arguments of “legal security” which provided the formal ground to escape the conflict between branches.

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Combatting TINA-Rhetoric through Judicial Review: Dealing with Pay Cuts in Times of Financial Consolidation

Recently, the German Federal Constitutional Court has decided that certain cuts on wages for civil servants in the Land Baden-Württemberg are unconstitutional. The judgment establishes a constitutional answer to the so-called “there is no alternative” (TINA) rhetoric that has largely dominated the political discourse on budgetary consolidation in the past. From this perspective, this line of jurisprudence allows for opening up a political and constitutional discourse that has become somewhat colonized by purely economic and financial considerations.

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(Not) Striking Down Surrogate Motherhood in Portugal

Last Tuesday, the Portuguese Constitutional Court declared unconstitutional several provisions of the regime on surrogacy, as well as the prohibition to disclose the identity of gamete donors and surrogate mothers. The most striking aspect of this decision, however, is not what the PCC ruled unconstitutional but rather what it expressly accepted as being constitutionally valid. The clear messages sent by the PCC to the legislature show a careful self-repositioning of the Court in its role as a constitutional interpreter in a democracy.

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