Topic: Reforming the UK Constitution: the blind sovereign

Presenter: Professor Richard S. Kay - Wallace Steven Professor of Law, University of Connecticut

The traditional doctrine of the sovereignty of Parliament in the United Kingdom is in the process of transformation as a result of a series of legislative acts, judicial decisions, statements of officials and even the opinions of academic writers. My paper is directed not to the extent of the change nor its propriety. It examines rather the process by which it has been effected. In most of the world wholesale constitutional change is an event. It takes place in a defined period of time and is the work of an identifiable group of people. The striking thing about the changes in the UK constitution is that it is almost universally regarded not as an event but as a process, one evolving in a series of uncoordinated events by different actors. This is not the deliberate act of a collective intelligence but the consequence of uncoordinated acts by different people. It is not designed; it is revealed over time, the work of a blind Sovereign. I survey these developments, contrast them with constitutional orthodoxy elsewhere and, finally, qualify the comparison by raising doubts about the vision of the standard model of constitution-making.

All welcome, no RSVP required.

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

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