Political Constitutionalism: A Republican Defence of the Constitutionality of Democracy

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Overview

Judicial review by constitutional courts is often presented as a necessary supplement to democracy. This book questions its effectiveness and legitimacy. Drawing on the republican tradition, Richard Bellamy argues that the democratic mechanisms of open elections between competing parties and decision-making by majority rule offer superior and sufficient methods for upholding rights and the rule of law. The absence of popular accountability renders judicial review a form of arbitrary rule which lacks the incentive structure democracy provides to ensure rulers treat the ruled with equal concern and respect. Rights based judicial review undermines the constitutionality of democracy. Its counter-majoritarian bias promotes privileged against unprivileged minorities, while its legalism and focus on individual cases distort public debate. Rather than constraining democracy with written constitutions and greater judicial oversight, attention should be paid to improving democratic processes through such measures as reformed electoral systems and enhanced parliamentary scrutiny.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"In this timely work, Political Constitutionalism, Richard Bellamy presents an original republican re-interpretation and defense of existing representative democratic constitutionalism against the legal constitutionalists, who would give the constitution to the courts, and against the deliberative democrats, who discount majority rule and party competition. It is a major contribution to the debate over democracy and constitutionalism."
James Tully, Distinguished Professor, Political Science, University of Victoria

"This sharp, intelligent, and clear book ably ties together two of the more important strands in political and legal theory of the past 20 years: the neorepublicanism most closely associated with Philip Pettit and the critique of the judiciary-centered model of constitutionalism, a model most prominently linked with Ronald Dworkin's philosophical apotheosis of the Warren Court....The second, affirmative, half of the book...is first rate, one of the best works in democratic theory in years." - Jacob T. Levy, McGill University, Perspectives on Politics

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780521865104
  • Publisher: Cambridge University Press
  • Publication date: 10/15/2007
  • Pages: 282
  • Product dimensions: 5.98 (w) x 8.98 (h) x 0.75 (d)

Meet the Author

Richard Bellamy is Professor of Political Science and Director of the School of Public Policy, University College London. He is the author of five books, numerous articles and book chapters and has edited over 20 volumes including The Cambridge History of Twentieth Century Political Thought (with Terence Ball, Cambridge, 2003) and editions of Beccaria and Gramsci in the Cambridge Texts in the History of Political Thought series.

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Table of Contents

Introduction; Part I. Legal Constitutionalism: 1. Constitutional rights and the limits of judicial review; 2. The rule of law and the rule of persons; 3. Constitutionalism and democracy; Part II. Political Constitutionalism: 4. The norms of political constitutionalism: non-domination and political equality; 5. The forms of political constitutionalism: public reason and the balance of power; 6. Bringing together norms and forms: the democratic constitution; Conclusion.

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