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Article

Access_open Liberal Democracy and the Judeo-Christian Tradition

Journal Netherlands Journal of Legal Philosophy, Issue 1 2020
Keywords national identity, historical narratives, universal values, equal citizenship
Authors Tamar de Waal
AbstractAuthor's information

    Increasingly often, it is stated that the universal values underpinning Western liberal democracies are a product of a ‘Judeo-Christian’ tradition. This article explores the legitimacy of this claim from the perspective of liberal-democratic theory. It argues that state-endorsed claims about the historical roots of liberal-democratic values are problematic (1) if they are promoted as though they are above democratic scrutiny and (2) if they insinuate that citizens who belong to a particular (majority) culture remain the ‘cultural owners’ of the core values underpinning the state. More pragmatically, the paper suggests that the claim carries the risk of failing to facilitate all citizens becoming or remaining committed to nurturing fundamental rights and a shared society based on norms of democratic equality.


Tamar de Waal
Tamar de Waal is assistant professor of legal philosophy at the Amsterdam Law School of the University of Amsterdam.
Article

Transitional Constitutional Unamendability?

Journal European Journal of Law Reform, Issue 3 2019
Keywords transitional constitutionalism, constitutional unamendability, decline of constitutional democracy, constitution-making in Hungary, the Hungarian Constitutional Court
Authors Gábor Halmai
AbstractAuthor's information

    This article discusses the pros and cons for a suggestion to use unamendable provisions in transitional constitutions to protect the integrity and identity of constitutions drafted after a democratic transition. The presumption for such a suggestion could be that most democratic constitution-making processes are elite-driven exercises in countries with no or very little constitutional culture. The article tries to answer the question, whether in such situations unamendable constitutional provisions can help to entrench basic principles and values of constitutionalism with the help of constitutional courts reviewing amendments aimed at violating the core of constitutionalism. The article investigates the experiences of some backsliding constitutional democracies, especially Hungary, and raises the question, whether unamendable constitutional provision could have prevented the decline of constitutionalism.
    In order to discuss the issue of transitional unamendability, the article engages in the scholarly discussion on transitional constitutionalism in general, and deals with the relationship of constitutional law and constitutional culture. Another side topic of the article is whether such transitional unamendability provisions should also contain international or transnational values and principles, and what happens if those are not in conformity with the unamendable provisions that serve to build up a national constitutional identity. Again, the example of Hungary can be important here, how national constitutional identity protected by the Constitutional Court can serve to abandon the European constitutional whole.


Gábor Halmai
Gábor Halmai is Professor and Chair of Comparative Constitutional Law, European University Institute, Florence; email: gabor.halmai@eui.eu.
Article

Access_open The Application of European Constitutional Values in EU Member States

The Case of the Fundamental Law of Hungary

Journal European Journal of Law Reform, Issue 2-3 2018
Keywords Article 2 and 7 TEU, democratic backsliding, Hungary, infringement procedure, rule-of-law mechanism
Authors Gábor Halmai
AbstractAuthor's information

    This article deals with the backsliding of liberal democracy in Hungary, after 2010, and also with the ways in which the European Union (EU) has coped with the deviations from the shared values of rule of law and democracy in one of its Member States. The article argues that during the fight over the compliance with the core values of the EU pronounced in Article 2 TEU with the Hungarian government, the EU institutions so far have proven incapable of enforcing compliance, which has considerably undermined not only the legitimacy of the Commission but also that of the entire rule-of-law oversight.


Gábor Halmai
Professor and Chair of Comparative Constitutional Law, European University Institute, Department of Law, Florence. This volume (The EU Bill of Rights’ Diagonal Application to Member States. Ed. Csongor István Nagy) was published as part of the research project of the HAS-Szeged Federal Markets ‘Momentum’ Research Group.
Article

Access_open Religion Ain’t Sacrosanct

How to Fight Obsolete Accounts of Religious Freedom

Journal Netherlands Journal of Legal Philosophy, Issue 3 2015
Keywords Hobby Lobby, Hosanna-Tabor, tolerance-leaning liberalism, equality-leaning liberalism
Authors Roland Pierik
AbstractAuthor's information

    This paper is largely an endorsement and a further elaboration of Cohen’s critical discussion of the Hobby Lobby and Hosanna-Tabor cases and the conceptual overstretch of religious freedom they embody. I disagree with Cohen, however, on the proper interpretation of this debate. Cohen construes the ominous Court cases as an anti-liberal attack on the liberal state order. My main thesis is that the root of this dispute can be traced back to a fault line within liberalism between a more tolerance-leaning and a more equality-leaning tradition. I argue that the ominous cases are instances of the tolerance-leaning tradition in liberalism, which once was characteristic of the liberal tradition. Still, I agree with Cohen that this tradition should be rejected because it reverts to an obsolete interpretation of religious freedom that defends unwarranted privileges for certain groups that are out of sync with the egalitarian underpinnings of contemporary liberal political orders.


Roland Pierik
Roland Pierik is Associate Professor of Legal Philosophy at the University of Amsterdam Law School.

Stefan Rummens
Stefan Rummens is Professor of Moral Philosophy at the Institute of Philosophy of the KU Leuven, Belgium.

Roland Pierik
Roland Pierik is Associate Professor of Legal Philosophy at the University of Amsterdam Law School.
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