Topic: Constitutional amendment rules and interpretive fidelity to democracy

Presenter: Dr Lael K. Weis - Research Fellow, Melbourne Law School

The aim of this seminar is to question the utility of 'democracy' as an evaluative criterion for deciding between competing interpretive views. It focuses on the debate between formalist and antiformalist interpretive theorists on the issue of constitutional change outside of a constitution's formal amendment rule. One strategy formalists use to address the criticism that their interpretive view is 'antidemocratic', insofar as formalism rejects the notion that a constitution ought to evolve to reflect changing social values, is to appeal to the availability of formal amendment rules. The paper argues that taking this suggestion seriously would require either advocating for substantial reform to existing amendment procedures and practices, or rejecting constitutional entrenchment altogether. Insofar as these are positions that many formalists would reject, the analysis suggests that the debate would better proceed by focusing directly on issues of constitutional design. 

All welcome, please register by emailing Beth Williams.

Contact: Beth Williams, ph: 334 69350, email:

About Research Seminar Series

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