Unstable Constitutionalism: Law and Politics in South Asia

Cambridge University Press
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Although the field of constitutional law has become increasingly comparative in recent years, its geographic focus has remained limited. South Asia, despite being the site of the world's largest democracy and a vibrant if turbulent constitutionalism, is one of the important neglected regions within the field. This book remedies this lack of attention by providing a detailed examination of constitutional law and practice in five South Asian countries: India, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Nepal, and Bangladesh. Identifying a common theme of volatile change, it develops the concept of 'unstable constitutionalism', studying the sources of instability alongside reactions and responses to it. By highlighting unique theoretical and practical questions in an underrepresented region, Unstable Constitutionalism constitutes an important step toward truly global constitutional scholarship.
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About the author

Mark Tushnet is William Nelson Cromwell Professor of Law at Harvard Law School. His important works in the field of comparative constitutional law include Advanced Introduction to Comparative Constitutional Law (2014), The Routledge Handbook of Constitutional Law (co-edited, 2012) and the leading handbook, Weak Courts, Strong Rights: Judicial Review and Social Welfare Rights in Comparative Constitutional Law (2009).

Madhav Khosla is currently a PhD candidate at the Department of Government at Harvard University, Massachusetts. He is the author of The Indian Constitution (2012) and is currently co-editing the Oxford Handbook of Indian Constitutional Law.

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Additional Information

Publisher
Cambridge University Press
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Published on
Sep 17, 2015
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Pages
415
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ISBN
9781316419083
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Language
English
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Genres
Law / Comparative
Law / Constitutional
Law / General
Political Science / Comparative Politics
Political Science / General
Social Science / Black Studies (Global)
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Content Protection
This content is DRM protected.
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Unlike many other countries, the United States has few constitutional guarantees of social welfare rights such as income, housing, or healthcare. In part this is because many Americans believe that the courts cannot possibly enforce such guarantees. However, recent innovations in constitutional design in other countries suggest that such rights can be judicially enforced--not by increasing the power of the courts but by decreasing it. In Weak Courts, Strong Rights, Mark Tushnet uses a comparative legal perspective to show how creating weaker forms of judicial review may actually allow for stronger social welfare rights under American constitutional law.

Under "strong-form" judicial review, as in the United States, judicial interpretations of the constitution are binding on other branches of government. In contrast, "weak-form" review allows the legislature and executive to reject constitutional rulings by the judiciary--as long as they do so publicly. Tushnet describes how weak-form review works in Great Britain and Canada and discusses the extent to which legislatures can be expected to enforce constitutional norms on their own. With that background, he turns to social welfare rights, explaining the connection between the "state action" or "horizontal effect" doctrine and the enforcement of social welfare rights. Tushnet then draws together the analysis of weak-form review and that of social welfare rights, explaining how weak-form review could be used to enforce those rights. He demonstrates that there is a clear judicial path--not an insurmountable judicial hurdle--to better enforcement of constitutional social welfare rights.

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