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When The Text Runs Out: The Role Of The Court In Constitutional Construction, Jack Tsen-Ta Lee May 2010

When The Text Runs Out: The Role Of The Court In Constitutional Construction, Jack Tsen-Ta Lee

Research Collection Yong Pung How School Of Law

Constitutions in Westminster-style legal systems in Asia such as India, Malaysia and Singapore feature bills of rights with provisions phrased at a high level of abstraction. As a consequence, at some stage a particular constitutional text ‘runs out’ and ceases to provide a court with substantive guidance as to how fundamental liberties should be applied to specific factual scenarios. Nonetheless, as it remains the court’s duty to understand the implications of the constitutional text in order to determine the dispute before it, the judge must necessarily engage in constitutional construction. This may be described as the process of articulating rules …


Taking Responsibilities As Well As Rights Seriously, James E. Fleming Apr 2010

Taking Responsibilities As Well As Rights Seriously, James E. Fleming

Faculty Scholarship

In his first book, Ronald Dworkin famously called for “taking rights seriously” by treating them as “trumps” over considerations of utility or the general welfare.1 Taking Rights Seriously (along with other works) provoked calls for taking responsibilities as well as (or instead of) rights seriously, or for engaging in “responsibility talk,” not just “rights talk.”2 In Life’s Dominion, Dworkin himself got on the responsibility bandwagon in justifying the right to procreative autonomy and the right to die.3 He countenanced that government may encourage women to take the decision whether to have an abortion responsibly, so long as it does not …


Commandeering The People: Why The Individual Health Insurance Mandate Is Unconstitutional, Randy E. Barnett Jan 2010

Commandeering The People: Why The Individual Health Insurance Mandate Is Unconstitutional, Randy E. Barnett

Georgetown Law Faculty Publications and Other Works

The “Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act” includes what is called an “individual responsibility requirement” or mandate that all persons buy health insurance from a private company and a separate “penalty” enforcing this requirement. In this paper, I do not critique the individual mandate on originalist grounds. Instead, I explain why the individual mandate is unconstitutional under the existing doctrine by which the Supreme Court construes the Commerce and Necessary and Proper Clauses and the tax power. There are three principal claims.

First (Part II), since the New Deal, the Supreme Court has developed a doctrine allowing the regulation of …


The Right To Bear Arms: A Uniquely American Entitlement, Lawrence O. Gostin Jan 2010

The Right To Bear Arms: A Uniquely American Entitlement, Lawrence O. Gostin

Georgetown Law Faculty Publications and Other Works

In District of Columbia v. Heller the Supreme Court held that individuals have a constitutional right to own firearms, notably to keep a loaded handgun at home for self-protection. The historic shift announced by Heller was the recognition of a personal right, rather than a collective right tied to state militias. In McDonald v. Chicago, the Supreme Court – in a familiar 5-4 ideological split – held that the 2nd Amendment applies not only to the federal government, but also to state and local gun control laws. In his dissent, Justice Stevens predicted that “the consequences could prove far more …


Public Consensus As Constitutional Authority, Richard A. Primus Jan 2010

Public Consensus As Constitutional Authority, Richard A. Primus

Articles

Barry Friedman's new book The Will of the People attempts to dissolve constitutional law's countermajoritariand ifficulty by showing that, in practice,t he Supreme Court does only what the public will tolerate. His account succeeds if "the countermajoritarian difficulty" refers to the threat that courts will run the country in ways that contravene majority preference, but not if the "the countermajoritarian difficulty" refers to the need to explain the legitimate sources of judicial authority in cases where decisions do contravene majority preference. Friedman's book does not pursue the second possibility, and may suggest that doing so is unimportant, in part because …