Miller/Cherry 2 Goes to Kashmir

There are certain principles which emerge from Miller/Cherry 2 which are meaningful for cases involving judicial review of executive powers. The application of these principles, especially in cases where the line between the executive and legislature is thin (resulting in what Bagehot described as the ‘fusion of powers’), can guide comparative lawyers to hitherto underexplored areas of administrative law accountability of the executive to legislative bodies.

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The Rule of Law, not the Rule of Politics

On 24 September 2019, just two weeks after Parliament had been controversially prorogued by Prime Minister, Boris Johnson, the UK Supreme Court handed down a unanimous judgment holding that such prorogation was ‘unlawful, null, and of no effect’. Parliament was not and had never been prorogued. But this is not likely to be the end of such questioning of the fundamentals of the constitution and – in particular – the limits of executive power.

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“Constitutional Paternalism” and the Inability to Legislate

On 25 September 2019, the Italian Constitutional Court (ICC) has made clear that assisted suicide is not punishable under specific conditions. The judgment came one year after the ICC had ordered the Italian Parliament to legislate on the matter – which it did not do. The entire story is indicative of the inability of Parliaments to respond to social demands as well as the current trend of high courts to act as shepherds of parliaments rather than as guardians of the constitution.

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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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Boris and the Queen: Lessons from Canada

UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s advice to the Queen that she prorogue Parliament for several weeks has sparked vociferous controversy. The unfortunate situation, which threatens to do real damage to constitutional, political and social relationships, has some analogues in former British dominions such as Canada.

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Unconstitutional Prorogation

On 1 April, the British Parliament again failed to agree on a plan for withdrawal from the European Union. It has now been suggested that the government should prorogue Parliament until after 12 April in order to terminate the current parliamentary debate. This would effectively silence Parliament to achieve its preferred version of Brexit without regard to principles of democracy and representative and responsible government.

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Brexit and the Speaker of the House of the Commons: Do the Ends Justify the Means?

Yesterday, the Speaker of the UK House of Commons decided to allow an amendment to the Brexit timetable to be selected and voted upon by the Commons, in flat contradiction of the Commons’ rules and against the advice of his senior clerks. In this post, I outline the constitutional context which helps to explain why the Speaker took his decision, even if it does not justify the way in which the decision was taken.

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With a little help from Henry VIII

There are few legislative assemblies in Europe which can call themselves with proud sovereign. The Principle of Parliamentary Sovereignty is the most important part of UK constitutional law. It implies that all legislation derives from the superior legal authority of Parliament and hence it is the job of the Members of Parliament to create, abolish and change the law. Well, since Henry VIII this principle is no longer entirely true, and it is currently challenged again by the future “Great Repeal Bill”.

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After Article 50 and Before Withdrawal: Does Constitutional Theory Require a General Election in the United Kingdom Before Brexit?

On March 29th, Theresa May will notify the EU Council of the withdrawal of the United Kingdom from the EU. This is the result of the Brexit referendum which, for the first time in the United Kingdom’s constitutional history, has opened up a powerful new source of popular sovereignty as a social fact. It is necessary for the constitutional integrity of the United Kingdom that this new stream of popular social legitimacy is realigned with the existing stream of Parliamentary Sovereignty. The most effective and desirable way in which to achieve this would be for a General Election to take place.

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Brexit in the Supreme Court: An Opportunity Missed?

For all that this case has been written-up in the media as a ‘defeat’ for the government, this was a case in which the Supreme Court passed up a significant opportunity to compensate for the UK’s newly imbalanced constitutional framework.

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