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Article

The European Union and Space

A ‘Star Wars’ Saga?

Journal European Journal of Law Reform, Issue 4 2019
Keywords EU space competence, EU Space Policy, Galileo, Copernicus, Framework Agreement ESA-EU
Authors Rebecca-Emmanuela Papadopoulou
AbstractAuthor's information

    This article explores the complex relationship between the European Union (EU) and space, alias space’s ever-growing place and role in the EU legal order. Two distinct paths are identified in this respect. On the one hand, as from the mid-1980s and despite the lack of an express ‘space competence’, space policy parameters were introduced in EU acts regulating telecommunications, satellite communications and electronic databases, but only to the extent necessary to serve the functioning of the single market. On the other hand, an autonomous EU Space Policy has been progressively elaborated as from the late 1990s through several initiatives, namely the strengthening of the collaboration with the European Space Agency and the setting up of the Galileo and Global Monitoring for Environment and Security (GMES)/Copernicus programmes. This tendency was corroborated by the conferral of an express space competence on the EU by the Lisbon Treaty, whose constitutional and institutional implications are explored in this article. It is submitted that the new space competence shall allow the EU to reach a stage of maturity and claim a greater degree of autonomy at the international level and, at the same time, to project its own governance model, thus enhancing the quality of international cooperation in space.


Rebecca-Emmanuela Papadopoulou
Rebecca-Emmanuela Papadopoulou is Assistant Professor, Law School, NKUA.
Article

Law Reform in Ireland

Implementation and Independence of Law Reform Commission

Journal European Journal of Law Reform, Issue 4 2019
Keywords law reform, statute law revision, better regulation, access to legislation, lawyer’s law
Authors Edward Donelan
AbstractAuthor's information

    This article describes the origins and work of the Law Reform Commission in Ireland. The model follows that in Common Law countries. Its work includes both substantive law reform and statute law revision (weeding out spent or unused statutes and undertaking consolidation or other work to make statute law more accessible.) The work of the Commission focuses on ‘lawyers’ law’ and, therefore, avoids subjects that could be politically controversial. Consequentially, the bulk of its recommendations are accepted and translated into legislation.


Edward Donelan
Edward Donelan, PhD, M.A., Barrister-at-Law (Kings Inns, Dublin, Middle Temple, London), Dip. Eur. Law, Dip. Arb. Better Regulation and Legislative Drafting Expert, currently working on projects with the Attorney General in Botswana to develop a programme of law reform for the newly established Law Reform Unit in the Chambers of the Attorney General.
Article

The New Regulation Governing AIR, VIR and Consultation

A Further Step Forward Towards ‘Better Regulation’ in Italy

Journal European Journal of Law Reform, Issue 4 2019
Keywords regulation, RIA, regulatory impact analysis, impact assessment, evaluation, consultation
Authors Victor Chimienti
AbstractAuthor's information

    This article describes the scope and contents of the newly adopted regulation governing regulatory impact analysis (RIA) and ex post evaluation of regulation (ExPER) in the Italian legal system. The article shows that this regulation has the potential to improve regulatory governance in Italy. Not only does it introduce innovations designed to increase transparency and participation, especially through strengthened consultation and communication mechanisms, but it also aims to improve the quality and effectiveness of regulatory analysis and evaluation activities. How the new regulation will be applied in practice, however, remains to be seen. In the meantime, the new set of rules are a welcome addition to Italy’s Better Regulation policy.


Victor Chimienti
Victor Chimienti is an international and EU lawyer currently working as a free-lance consultant on donor funded projects. In 1997, he graduated in Law with full marks at the University of Bari “Aldo Moro” (Italy), and, in 2006, obtained his Ph.D in International and EU Law from the same university. Meanwhile, he had attended post-graduate legal studies at LUISS University in Rome, Italy, specialising in international and EC business law. Dr. Chimienti has also served as Lecturer in International and Trade Law at the University of Foggia, Italy, and as Research Scholar in International & Comparative Law at the University of Michigan, USA. Among others, he specialises in Better Regulation tools and procedures, such as Regulatory Impact Analysis (RIA), Ex-Post Evaluation of Legislation, Monitoring, and Public Consultation.
Article

Law Reform and the Executive

Journal European Journal of Law Reform, Issue 4 2019
Keywords law reform, parliamentary counsel, legislative drafting, Australia, Victoria
Authors Adam Bushby
AbstractAuthor's information

    This article comments on the process of law reform in Australia from the perspective of a legislative drafter. After a description of the Australian political and parliamentary system and a discussion of the role of the legislative drafter, a brief summary of the formal law reform processes in Australia is provided, including a discussion of how legislative drafting offices participate in the law reform process. Participation includes the drafting of Bills giving effect to law reform proposals based on drafting instructions approved by Cabinet, providing for the undertaking of statutory reviews, as well as the remaking of legislation. It is the role of the legislative drafter to assist the government by turning policy into legislation, so the focus here is on the practical implementation of law reform rather than the independence of law reform bodies.


Adam Bushby
Senior Parliamentary Counsel, Office of the Chief Parliamentary Counsel, Department of Premier and Cabinet, Victoria, Australia. This article reflects the opinions of the author only, and should not be taken as representing the stance of the Office of the Chief Parliamentary Counsel, Victoria, Australia. I would, of course, welcome any feedback from anyone with an interest in law reform.
Article

Parliamentary Control over Delegated Legislation in Japan

Journal European Journal of Law Reform, Issue 4 2019
Keywords statutory instruments, sole law-making organ, supplementary resolution, legislative veto, Committee on Oversight of Administration
Authors Katsuhiro Musashi
AbstractAuthor's information

    The delegation of legislation from the parliament to the administration plays an important role in a modern administrative state. In Britain, parliamentary control – whereby the parliament has the right to approve or veto a delegated legislation – has been institutionalized and implemented. On the other hand, the Japanese parliament is powerless to approve a delegated order beforehand or ex post. Therefore, improper procedures such as the deviation of the delegated order from the enabling act by a governmental agency, or the introduction of arbitrary administrative measures, have been carried out under insufficient supervision by the parliament in Japan. The National Diet of Japan should, ideally, also hold the power to control the administrative order on the basis of the legal principles formulated by the Diet. Therefore, we propose the introduction of a parliamentary control system that invalidates the ex post enactment of a cabinet order if both Houses of parliament refuse the order within 40 days of its submission. These procedures would have increased efficacy when augmented with a political check function on the proposed cabinet orders by the parliament’s Committee on Oversight of Administration, or their standing committees.


Katsuhiro Musashi
Katsuhiro Musashi is Professor of Law and Policy at the Faculty of Policy Studies, Doshisha University in Kyoto, Japan.
Article

Reunification, Integration and Unification of Law

Germany and Korea

Journal European Journal of Law Reform, Issue 4 2019
Keywords reunification, Korean nation, integration, Constitution, human rights, social market economy
Authors Ulrich Karpen
AbstractAuthor's information

    The meetings of US President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un, on 12 June 2018 in Singapore, as well as of South Korean President Moon Jae-in and Kim Jong-un, on 18 and 19 September 2018 in Pyongyang, intensified hopes of a step-by-step process aimed at the reunification of Korea. This development may follow the patterns of (West) German Chancellor Willy Brandt’s ‘East Policy’ with the Soviet Union and the (East) German Democratic Republic in 1970-71, which led to the reunification of Germany under Chancellor Helmut Kohl, in 1990. This article deals with similarities and differences in regard to Germany’s and Korea’s recent histories. It analyses the political, economic and legal aspects of a possible way to achieve Korean unity.


Ulrich Karpen
Prof. Dr. Ulrich Karpen, Faculty of Law, University of Hamburg, Germany.
Article

The Eternity Clause

Lessons from the Czech Example

Journal European Journal of Law Reform, Issue 3 2019
Keywords eternity clause, constitutional amendment, Czech Republic
Authors Ondřej Preuss
AbstractAuthor's information

    This article presents lessons from the Czech example of the so-called Eternity Clause’ i.e. a legal standard declaring certain principles, values or specific constitutional provisions to be unalterable and irrevocable. The Eternity Clause is viewed and applied in the Czech Republic as a substantive legal ‘instrument’ that enables society to preserve its values. It is used to limit practical ‘power’ and to maintain desired values and the political system.
    That the Eternity clause is a practical instrument has already been proved by the Czech Constitutional Court in its famous ‘Melcák’ decision. However, recent developments show that the Czech Constitutional Court is no longer open to such a ‘radical’ approach. Nonetheless, it still seems that the court is prepared to defend the values of liberal democracy, just not in such a spectacular way. It is, therefore, more up to the political actors or the people themselves to use Eternity Clause arguments to protect liberal democracy and its values.


Ondřej Preuss
Faculty of Law, Charles University (preuss@prf.cuni.cz). This article was written under the “Progress 04: Law in a Transforming World” programme.
Article

Unamendability and Constitutional Identity in the Italian Constitutional Experience

Journal European Journal of Law Reform, Issue 3 2019
Keywords Unamendability, constitutional identity, republic, counterlimits, European integration, Italy
Authors Pietro Faraguna
AbstractAuthor's information

    The article explores the historical roots of the explicit unamendable clause(s) in the Italian Constitution. Following, it explores the scholarly debate over the interpretation of unamendable provisions. The article investigates theories of implicit unamendability of the Italian Constitution, and, in particular, it analyses the crucial role played by the Constitutional Court of Italy (ICC) and the principles that characterize Italian constitutional identity. Furthermore, the article explores the other side of constitutional identity, namely the theory of ‘counterlimits.’ The ICC specified that constitutional identity not only sets a limit to constitutional amendment powers but also sets ‘counterlimits’ to the entry of external norms (i.e., supranational and international law) in the domestic legal system. Finally, the article draws some conclusions and argues that the two sides of constitutional identity, although legally and logically independent, mutually reinforce each other and, ultimately, reinforce the counter-majoritarian nature of unamendability.


Pietro Faraguna
Pietro Faraguna is Assistant professor of constitutional law, University of Trieste.
Article

Constitutional Unamendability in the Nordic Countries

Journal European Journal of Law Reform, Issue 3 2019
Keywords the Nordic constitutions, constitutional unamendability, explicit limits, implicit limits, supra-constitutional limits, review of constitutional amendments
Authors Tuomas Ojanen
AbstractAuthor's information

    With the exception of the Constitution of Norway, the Constitutions of Denmark, Finland, Iceland and Sweden are silent on any substantive limits to the power of constitutional amendment. Until now, the topic of constitutional unamendability has also attracted very little attention in Nordic constitutional scholarship.
    However, some idiosyncrasies making up the identity of the Nordic constitutions, as well as constitutional limits to Nordic participation in European integration, may implicate the existence of some implicit limits to amendment powers. Similarly, international human rights obligations binding upon the Nordic countries, as well as European Union law and European Economic Area law, may impose some external, supra-constitutional limitations on the powers of Nordic constitutional amenders. However, the existence of any implicit or supra-constitutional unamendability is speculative in the current state of evolution of Nordic constitutionalism. This is even more so since the use of constitutional amendment powers are beyond judicial review by the Nordic courts.


Tuomas Ojanen
Tuomas Ojanen is Professor of Constitutional Law, University of Helsinki, contact: tuomas.ojanen@helsinki.fi.
Article

Retrospective Policy Evaluation at the European Parliament

Journal European Journal of Law Reform, Issue 2 2019
Keywords European parliament, EU legislation, post-legislative scrutiny, scrutiny of the executive, Better Regulation
Authors José Luis Rufas Quintana and Irmgard Anglmayer
AbstractAuthor's information

    The European Parliament (EP) has become an active player in the evaluation of EU policy in recent years. In particular, the creation of a dedicated impact assessment capacity (both ex-ante and ex-post) within parliament’s administration, and the adoption of new rules for committees’ preparation of ‘implementation reports’ has led to an institutionalization of parliament’s evaluation activities. This article discusses the rationale for, and practice of, the European Parliament’s policy evaluation system in the context of the EU’s Better Regulation Agenda. It explains how, when and why the European Parliament performs retrospective evaluation. Moreover, it reflects on the complementary role of parliament’s evaluation work with regard to that of the European Commission and, finally, examines the value it adds in terms of accountability and agenda-setting.


José Luis Rufas Quintana
José Luis Rufas Quintana is Head of the Ex-post Evaluation Unit within the European Parliamentary Research Service.

Irmgard Anglmayer
Irmgard Anglmayer works as a policy analyst in the Ex-post Evaluation Unit within the European Parliamentary Research Service. The content of this article is the sole responsibility of the authors and any opinions expressed herein should not be taken to represent an official position of the European Parliament.
Article

Post-Legislative Scrutiny in New Zealand

A Focus on Delegated Legislation

Journal European Journal of Law Reform, Issue 2 2019
Keywords post-legislative scrutiny, regulations review, parliamentary oversight, New Zealand, law reform proposals, comparative law
Authors Charles Chauvel
AbstractAuthor's information

    In New Zealand, a scheme for the political post-legislative scrutiny of delegated legislation has operated since 1989. The Regulations Review Committee of the House of Representatives systematically considers delegated legislation and may inquire into matters relating to it. By convention the Committee is chaired by a member of an opposition party and is supported by a dedicated secretariat. It may, on grounds that go beyond vires, draw the attention of the House to any provision of any regulation. If one of its members moves to disallow a statutory instrument, and if debate on the member’s motion is not brought on within a specified period, the instrument ceases to have legal effect. The note considers aspects of the Committee’s jurisdiction, and whether the successful operation of the Committee may have led to excess focus on the scrutiny of delegated legislation at the expense of the systemic post-enactment scrutiny of primary legislation.


Charles Chauvel
Charles Chauvel is a Former Member of Parliament, New Zealand and Official of the United Nations.
Article

The Role of National Human Rights Institutions in Post-Legislative Scrutiny

Journal European Journal of Law Reform, Issue 2 2019
Keywords National Human Rights Institution, parliament, legislation, reporting, post-legislative scrutiny
Authors Luka Glušac
AbstractAuthor's information

    This article explores the role of national human rights institutions (NHRIs) in post-legislative scrutiny (PLS), a topic that has been notably neglected in existing literature. The present research demonstrates that (1) legislative review is actually part of NHRIs’ mandate and (2) the applicable international standards (e.g. Belgrade and Paris Principles) provide for their actorness in all stages of legislative process. The main hypothesis is that NHRIs have already been conducting activities most relevant for PLS, even though they have not often been labelled as such by parliaments or scholars. In other words, we argue that their de facto role in PLS has already been well established through their practice, despite the lack of de jure recognition by parliamentary procedures. We support this thesis by providing empirical evidence from national practices to show NHRIs’ relevance for PLS of both primary and secondary legislation. The central part of this article concentrates on the potential of NHRIs to act as (1) triggers for PLS, and (2) stakeholders in PLS that has already been initiated. The article concludes with a summary of the results, lessons learned, their theoretical and practical implications and the avenues for further research.


Luka Glušac
Luka Glušac received his PhD in Political Science from the University of Belgrade; Faculty of Political Sciences. His PhD thesis explored the evolution of national human rights institutions (NHRIs) and their relations with the United Nations. He is adviser in the Secretariat of the Ombudsman of Serbia, since 2011. In 2018, he served as a National Institutions Fellow at The Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) in Geneva. He can be contacted at lukaglusac@gmail.com.
Article

Post-Legislative Scrutiny in a Non-Westminster Parliament

Opportunities, Challenges and Considerations

Journal European Journal of Law Reform, Issue 2 2019
Keywords post-legislative scrutiny, parliamentary oversight, legislative process, Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine, French Senate, Belgian federal parliament
Authors Jonathan Murphy and Svitlana Mishura
AbstractAuthor's information

    Post-legislative scrutiny (PLS) has generated growing interest as a means both for strengthening the legislative process and for permitting parliament to more effectively integrate its legislative and oversight functions. Engagement throughout the cycle of legislative development, adoption and implementation enables parliament to assure laws are properly implemented and to rectify weaknesses either in original legislative conceptualization or in executive implementation. Carried out properly, PLS should improve governance and increase its democratic accountability. Recent attention to PLS has however focused mainly on its role and use in Westminster-type parliaments. This article explores PLS from the perspective of non-Westminster parliaments. It seeks to understand why PLS in non-Westminster parliaments has received comparatively less scholarly and parliamentary development practitioner attention. The article uses a case study of Ukraine to explore the context and challenges for effective PLS, a non-Westminster emerging democracy. It concludes by proposing rebalancing discussion of PLS to take better account of diverse parliamentary models and suggests approaches to supporting PLS development in parliaments where it has not previously been consistently used


Jonathan Murphy
Jonathan Murphy is Docent, University of Jyvaskyla, Finland and parliamentary development consultant.

Svitlana Mishura
Svitlana Mishura is Deputy Head of the Main Legal Department of the Administration of the Parliament of Ukraine. The authors would like to thank UNDP Ukraine and the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine for their support to the development of this article, and Anastasia Petrova for her invaluable research assistance in collecting data on PLS in the Verkhovna Rada.
Article

Access_open A Tale of Two Houses?

Post-Legislative Scrutiny in the UK Parliament

Journal European Journal of Law Reform, Issue 2 2019
Keywords post-legislative scrutiny, committees, recommendations, UK Parliament
Authors Tom Caygill
AbstractAuthor's information

    In the last decade a more systematic approach to post-legislative scrutiny has been taken by both the UK Government and Parliament. Currently, owing to a lack of systematic analysis we do not know how both Houses of the UK Parliament are undertaking post-legislative scrutiny. The aim of the article is to determine the similarities and differences between the House of Commons and the House of Lords when undertaking post-legislative scrutiny. The article addresses this gap in knowledge through the use of four case studies, which address how legislation is selected for review, what recommendations are produced and how government responses are followed up. The article finds that there are a number of differences in the way legislation is selected by both Houses and also highlights the differences between them in terms of the output of their recommendations. Overall, this article contributes to our knowledge of the processes available to the UK Parliament for the undertaking of post-legislative scrutiny. This is important as post-legislative scrutiny, as a formalized activity, is relatively new, and there is a contribution to be made here in terms of how such procedures can be utilized in other legislatures.


Tom Caygill
Tom Caygill is a Doctoral candidate, School of Geography, Politics and Sociology, Newcastle University (UK). Funding: This work was supported by the Economic and Social Research Council [Grant number ES/J500082/1].
Article

Post-Legislative Scrutiny as a Form of Executive Oversight

Tools and Practices in Europe

Journal European Journal of Law Reform, Issue 2 2019
Keywords scrutiny of law enforcement, ex-post impact assessment, parliamentary oversight of the executive, post-legislative scrutiny
Authors Elena Griglio
AbstractAuthor's information

    Parliaments’ engagement in post-legislative scrutiny can be considered either as an extension of the legislative function or within the framework of the oversight of the executive. This article makes use of the latter view to assess how parliaments in Europe approach post-legislative scrutiny and to which extent this function can be regarded as a form of executive oversight. Although rules and practices of parliaments in this realm are remarkably heterogeneous, the focus on some selected parliaments (Italy, France, Germany, Sweden, and the European Parliament) reveals three different conceptual categories. In the ‘basic’ approach (passive scrutinizers), parliaments limit their role solely to the assessment of the ex-post scrutiny performed by the government and external agencies. Differently, parliaments willing to engage in a more proactive approach might choose either to act on an informal basis, establishing ad hoc research/evaluation administrative units (informal scrutinizers) or to address post-legislative scrutiny in a formal and highly institutionalized manner (formal scrutinizers). As a matter of fact, the practise of parliaments often combines characters of different categories. While in all of these approaches post-legislative scrutiny shows potential for executive oversight, only the third can potentially lead to a kind of ‘hard’ oversight.


Elena Griglio
Dr Elena Griglio is a Senior Parliamentary Official, Italian Senate and Adjunct Professor, Luiss Guido Carli University.
Article

Legislative Reform in Post-Conflict Settings

A Practitioner’s View

Journal European Journal of Law Reform, Issue 1 2019
Keywords post-conflict, rule of law, law reform, legislative reform
Authors Nathalia Berkowitz
AbstractAuthor's information

    Following conflict, considerable effort is often dedicated to legislative reform. This effort includes not only domestic actors but also international actors frequently acting with the aim of establishing the rule of law. This article seeks, first, to provide some context for legislative reform in post-conflict settings and outline some of the criticisms that have been made. Drawing on the work of legislative experts, the article then identifies some of the simple questions that those involved in legislative reform ask and discusses some of the key challenges in answering them. The article suggests that establishing the rule of law is more than putting laws ‘on the books’ and that the way in which legislation is created may itself contribute to developing the rule of law. It suggests that as the rule-of-law community develops new approaches, it might find it useful to draw on the approach of legislative experts and their concern with how effective legislation is created.


Nathalia Berkowitz
Nathalia Berkowitz is a former Barrister and legislative drafter working as an independent consultant focusing on rule of law reform. Nathalia has over 10 years’ experience supporting legislative reform and judicial process in countries around the world. She is a UK [Government] deployable civilian expert and faculty member of the University of Salamanca’s Global and International Studies Program. She can be contacted at nathaliapendo@gmail.com.
Article

Law Reform in a Federal System

The Australian Example

Journal European Journal of Law Reform, Issue 1 2019
Keywords customary law, federal system, Australia
Authors Kathryn Cronin
AbstractAuthor's information

    The Australian law reform arrangements comprise a ‘crowded field’ of law reformers. These include permanent, semi-permanent and ad hoc commissions, committees and inquiries charged with examining and recommending reform of Commonwealth/federal and state laws. These are supplemented by citizen-led deliberative forums on law reform. The author’s experience in her roles as a commissioner and deputy president of the Australian Law Reform Commission (ALRC) and also as counsel assigned to advise the Joint Standing Committee on Migration in the Australian Federal Parliament highlighted facets of Australian law reform – the particular role of a law commission working in a federal system and the co-option of legal expertise to scrutinize law reforms proposed within the parliamentary committee system.


Kathryn Cronin
Kathryn Cronin is former Deputy President Australian Law Reform Commissioner and now barrister at Garden Court Chambers.
Article

Smart Enforcement

Theory and Practice

Journal European Journal of Law Reform, Issue 4 2018
Keywords regulatory inspections, regulatory enforcement, environmental regulations, smart regulation
Authors Dr. Florentin Blanc and Prof. Michael Faure
AbstractAuthor's information

    There is an increasing attention both on how inspections and enforcement efforts with respect to regulatory breaches can be made as effective as possible. Regulatory breaches refer to violations of norms that have been prescribed in public regulation, such as, for example, environmental regulation, food safety regulation or regulation aiming at occupational health and safety. The enforcement of this regulation is qualified as regulatory enforcement. It has been claimed that inspections should not be random, but based on risk and target-specific violators and violations. Such a “smart” enforcement policy would be able to increase the effectiveness of enforcement policy. Policy makers are enthusiastic about this new strategy, but less is known about the theoretical foundations, nor about the empirical evidence. This article presents the theoretical foundations for smart enforcement as well as some empirics. Moreover, the conditions under which smart enforcement could work are identified, but also a few potential limits are presented.


Dr. Florentin Blanc
Dr. Florentin Blanc is a consultant to the World Bank Group, OECD, and governments on investment climate and business environment.

Prof. Michael Faure
Prof. Michael Faure is Academic Director Maastricht European institute for Transnational Legal Research (METRO), Maastricht University, Professor of Comparative and International Environmental Law, Maastricht University and Academic Director of Ius Commune Research School, Maastricht University. He is also Professor of Comparative Law and Economics at Erasmus Law School (Rotterdam).
Article

Plain Language

A Promising Tool for Quality Legislation

Journal European Journal of Law Reform, Issue 4 2018
Keywords plain language, clarity, precision, accessibility, interpretation
Authors Kally K.L. Lam LLB
AbstractAuthor's information

    The hypothesis of this article is that plain language drafting with innovative drafting techniques can improve the quality of legislation. Further to this, the article tries to prove that quality legislation can also make the law more accessible to its general audience. With regard to quality, the article assesses plain language drafting with innovative drafting techniques using Helen Xanthaki’s criteria of quality in legislation, i.e. that it should be clear, precise and unambiguous. With regard to accessibility, it is defined broadly as to include readability. I will first assess whether plain language drafting with innovative drafting techniques can meet the expectations of its general audience and second discuss whether legislation drafted in plain language with innovative techniques passes the usability tests.


Kally K.L. Lam LLB
Kally K.L. Lam, LLB (University of Hong Kong), LLM (University of London) is Solicitor (Hong Kong).
Article

Three Tiers, Exceedingly Persuasive Justifications and Undue Burdens

Searching for the Golden Mean in US Constitutional Law

Journal European Journal of Law Reform, Issue 2-3 2018
Keywords Equal protection, franchise, fundamental rights, intermediate scrutiny, rationality review, reproductive rights, right to vote, strict scrutiny, substantive due process, undue burden, US constitutional law
Authors Barry Sullivan
AbstractAuthor's information

    When government action is challenged on equal protection grounds in the US, conventional wisdom holds that the courts will analyse constitutionality under one of three standards of review: rational basis, intermediate scrutiny and strict scrutiny. In substantive due process cases, two standards are applied: rational basis and strict scrutiny. In fact, careful study shows that the levels of scrutiny are actually more plastic than conventional wisdom would suggest and have shifted over time. In addition, courts sometimes confuse matters by appearing to introduce new tests, as when Justice Ginsburg characterized the government’s burden in Virginia v. United States, 518 U.S. 515 (1996) in terms of “an exceedingly persuasive justification”. Finally, while the Court originally applied strict scrutiny review to reproductive rights in Roe v. Wade, 410 U.S. 113 (1973), the Court has subsequently applied an ‘undue burden’ test in that area. A similar trend can be seen in voting rights cases. While the Court long ago characterized the right to vote as “fundamental … because preservative of all rights”, Yick Wo v. Hopkins, 118 U.S. 356, 370 (1886), and the modern Court initially applied strict scrutiny to voting rights, the Court has now moved away from strict scrutiny, just as it has in the reproductive rights area. This erosion of constitutional protection for voting rights is the central concern of this article. The focus here is on the way these tests have evolved with respect to limitations on the right to vote. The article begins with a description of the three-tiered paradigm and then considers the US Supreme Court’s development of the ‘undue burden’ test as a substitute for the strict scrutiny standard in the reproductive rights jurisprudence. The article then considers the Court’s analogous move away from strict scrutiny in voting rights cases. That move is particularly troubling because overly deferential review may subvert democratic government by giving elected officials enormous power to frame electoral rules in a way that potentially games the system for their own benefit. Building on existing scholarship with respect to reproductive rights, this article suggests a possible way forward, one that may satisfy the Court’s concerns with the need for regulation of the electoral process while also providing the more robust protection needed to protect the right to participate meaningfully in the electoral process.


Barry Sullivan
Cooney & Conway Chair in Advocacy and Professor of Law, Loyola University Chicago School of Law. The author is grateful to Jeffrey W. Gordon, Pilar Mendez and Tara Russo for expert research assistance, to Julienne Grant, Loyola University Chicago School of Law Reference Librarian, for additional research assistance, and to Michael Kaufman, Alfred S. Konefsky, Juan Perea, H. Jefferson Powell, Henry Rose, and Winnifred Fallers Sullivan for many helpful comments on an earlier draft. The author also wishes to thank the Cooney & Conway Chair Fund and the Loyola University School of Law Faculty Research Fund. The usual dispensation applies. 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.
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