Introduction: Constitutional Courts and Populism

This mini-symposium is a joint project between the editors of the Verfassungsblog and the editors of I-Connect. We have brought together a number of prominent scholars, working on different issues, approaches, and regions of the world, and invite contributions by others, to tackle a pressing issue: the importance of populism for comparative constitutional law. Scholars […]

Continue Reading →

Populist Constitutions – A Contradiction in Terms?

The meaning of “populism” is deeply contested.  It is striking, though, that many observers appear to agree on one point: whatever else it is, populism is inherently hostile to the mechanisms and, ultimately, the values commonly associated with constitutionalism: constraints on the will of the majority, checks and balances, protections for minorities, and even fundamental […]

Continue Reading →

Populism and the Courts

The antagonism of populist governments to apex courts is a matter of historical record, starting with Peronism, the first time that an openly populist movement established its own government. Currently, it is demonstrated by repeated conflicts between populist executive power and constitutional courts, and the often successful attempts of the former to pack and disempower […]

Continue Reading →

Populist Constitutionalism and the Democratic Minimum Core

Democratic “populism” is on the rise worldwide. In the last decade, Latin America has seen a wave of populist, neo-Bolivarian political change; Hungary and Poland have seen the election of nationalist parties openly opposed to the European project; and a majority of voters in the UK have voted for Brexit.  In the US, for the […]

Continue Reading →

Courts in a Populist World

“I did not come to in order to be loved but in order to voice the sentiments of the public,” said Minister Miri Regev. Meanwhile, an Opposition Member of Knesset exclaimed that “we are here because we reflect and represent the people.”1)Haim Jelin, Yesh Atid (party), Knesset Session/Sitting (3 August 2016) (our translation; emphasis added). […]

Continue Reading →

Trapped in the Age of Trump: the American Supreme Court and 21st Century Populism

The American Supreme Court is currently ill-equipped to confront populism. The Court’s deficiency is not because of the political balance between justices nominated by Republican Presidents and those nominated by Democrat Presidents. It is a result of a deeper shift in the way the concept of judicial legitimacy is currently understood in the US. In […]

Continue Reading →

Safeguarding Democratic Institutions

A discussion of courts and populism begs for definitional boundaries.  While courts are generally institutionally confined, the same cannot be said for populism, a political moniker that risks confounding everything from the majoritarian core of democracy to the demagogic claims of tyrants in the making. As difficult as precise definition might be, it is clear […]

Continue Reading →

Populism and Judicial Backlash in the United States and Europe

Common criticisms of judicial activism stretch from the somewhat outdated but nonetheless repeatedly re-emerging argument of courts’ “counter-majoritarian difficulty”1)Alexander M. Bickel, The Least Dangerous Branch: The Supreme Court at the Bar of Politics 16 (1962). to the prevalence of disagreement in plural societies concerning the substance and scope of human rights.2) Richard Bellamy, “Rights as […]

Continue Reading →

Populism and the Turkish Constitutional Court: the Game Broker, the Populist and the Popular

Populist strategies have for some time been an integral part of Turkish political life employed dominantly by the right wing political parties.1)For populism as a discursive strategy in Turkey see Zafer Toprak, “Populism ve Türkiye’deki Boyutları”, Tarih ve Demokrasi (Istanbul: Cem Yayınevi, 1992), pp. 41-62; Reşat Kasaba, “Populism and Democracy in Turkey, 1946-1961”, Rules and […]

Continue Reading →

In Defense of Judicial Populism: Lessons from Colombia

In 2005, the Colombian Constitutional Court upheld an amendment allowing presidential reelection. An extremely popular President elected for the 2002-2006 period, Álvaro Uribe, was behind the reform. The Court’s decision was highly controversial because one of the goals of the 1991 Constitution was to check the powers held by the Colombian President since 1886. For […]

Continue Reading →