Edinburgh Legal Theory Festival: Constituent power and constitutional change, 29 May 2013

by | 25 May 2013

martin-2chThe concept of constituent power permeates several major areas of inquiry in constitutional theory. It has morphed from the Abbé de Sieyès’s distinction between constituent power and constituted powers, to Carl Schmitt’s understanding of political existence and the unbounded will of the people, to today’s reinterpretations of popular sovereignty within the confines of rights and the rule of law. Two problems posed by the concept require particular investigation. On the one hand, constituent power purports to provide legitimacy to the constitutional text, most often by invoking the ‘people’ as authorial entity. On the other, it bears an unstable relationship to constitutionalism, which by definition would seem to limit, or even negate, constituent power. Both problems are tackled by the proposed workshop, with the two sessions building upon each other to provide a better answer to the paradox of the constituent both constituting a new legal order and also thereby limiting itself.


Wednesday, 29th May, 10.00 – 13.00 Moot Court Room, Old College, Edinburgh Law School

Organiser: Silvia Suteu, Edinburgh Law School, s.suteu@sms.ed.ac.uk

Part of the Legal Theory Spring Workshops 2013: May 28-31, Edinburgh Law School*

For the full series of workshops, see the programme here.


10:00 – 11:45

‘Rights and Constituent Power: A Sociological View of the Global Constitution’,

Prof Chris Thornhill, Department of Politics, University of Glasgow

‘The Constituent Power as Augmentation and/or Revolution?’,

Dr Mark Wenman, Department of Politics, University of Nottingham

Discussant: Dr Zoran Oklopcic, Department of Law and Legal Studies, Carleton University

11:45 – 12:00 Coffee break

12:00 – 13:00

‘An Inoperative Constituent Power’,

Dr Illan rua Wall, Warwick Law School

Discussant: Dr Euan MacDonald, Edinburgh Law School



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