The Constitution of Freedom: An Introduction to Legal Constitutionalism

ISBN : 9780198732174

Andras Sajo; Renata Uitz
478 Pages
171 x 246 mm
Pub date
Oct 2017
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Constitutional democracy is more fragile and less 'natural' than autocracy. While this may sound surprising to complacent democrats, more and more people find autocracy attractive, because they were never forced to understand or imagine what despotism is. Generations who have lived in stable democracies with the promise that their enviable world will become the global 'normal' find government rule without constitutionalism difficult to conceive. It is difficult, but never too late, to see one's own constitutional system as something that is fragile, or up for grabs and in need of constant attention and care. In this book, András Sajó and Renáta Uitz explore how constitutionalism protects us and how it might be undone by its own means.

Sajó and Uitz's intellectual history of the constitutional ideal is rich in contextual detail and informed by case studies that give an overview of both the theory and practice of constitutionalism worldwide. Classic constitutions are contrasted with twentieth-century and contemporary endeavours, and experimentations in checks and balances. Their endeavour is neither apologetic (and certainly not celebratory), nor purely defensive: this book demonstrates why constitutionalism should continue to matter. Between the rise of populist, anti-constitutional sentiment and the normalization of the apparatus of counter-terrorism, it is imperative that the political communities who seek to sustain democracy as freedom understand the importance of constitutionalism. This book is essential reading for students of law and general readers without prior knowledge of the field, as well as those in politics who believe they know how government works. It shows what is at stake in the debate on constitutionalism.


1 Constitutions and Constitutionalism
2 Conditions for a Constitution
3 Democracy, or Taming an Unruly Friend
4 Dangerous Liaisons: Separation of Powers and Checks and Balances
5 Federalism
6 Parliamentarism and the Legislative Branch
7 The Executive Power
8 The Rule of Law and Its Executors
9 Who Guards the Guardians? Constitutional Adjudication
10 Rights
11 Constitutions Under Stress
12 Multi-layered Constitutionalism, Globalization and the Revival of the Nation State

About the author: 

Andras Sajo is a judge (2008) and past vice-president (2015-2017) of the European Court of Human Rights. He is also a University Professor at the Central European University in Budapest and Global Visiting Professor of Law at New York University Law School. He is the author and editor of numerous books on comparative constitutional law, including the Oxford Handbook of Comparative Constitutional Law, with Michel Rosenfeld. ; Renata Uitz is professor and chair of the comparative constitutional law program at Central European University, Budapest.

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