UK Constitutional Law Blog
26 September 2019
Constitutions do many things. They distribute authority amongst public bodies, enshrine important points of substantive principle, and cement relationships between rulers and the ruled. However, in a more abstract and fundamental sense, constitutions also tell us something about ourselves as political collectives: they express the kind of polity we embody and the kind of people we have come to be.
Whether written or unwritten, constitutions establish the contours of our political communities. To use Hannah Arendt’s metaphor – borrowed from the Ancient Greek understanding of law as nomos – constitutions are the walls that encircle, define, and defend the everyday aspects of our political lives. It is against this normative backdrop that I want to reflect upon one element of what is expressed by the recent judgement of the United Kingdom Supreme Court in the cases of R (on the application of Miller) v The Prime Minister and Cherry and others v Advocate General for Scotland. This element, which I contend is of fundamental importance to the overall justifiability of our constitutional order, is mentioned in paragraphs 46 and 47 of that judgement. It relates to the governmental accountability, and is expressed in the following terms... Click here to read the full blog post.