THE FEDERATION PRESS  
From Dialogue to Disagreement in Comparative Rights Constitutionalism

From Dialogue to Disagreement in Comparative Rights Constitutionalism

By Scott Stephenson

 

The bills of rights adopted in the Commonwealth countries of Canada, New Zealand, the United Kingdom and, at the subnational level, Australia in recent decades, have prompted scholars and institutional actors involved in the process of constitutional design and reform to rethink how to evaluate and compare the different approaches to human rights protection. They have challenged a number of assumptions in the field, for example, that courts must have the power to invalidate laws that are found to violate rights (ie courts can now be given non-binding powers), that courts must have the ‘final word’ on rights issues (ie legislatures can now be given the power to override judicial decisions) and that bills of rights are enforced exclusively by courts (ie legislators can now be given new responsibilities to ensure that the laws they enact are compatible with rights).

This book addresses three questions arising from these developments. How do these new bills of rights differ from the traditional approaches to rights protection? Why, if at all, should we consider the Commonwealth’s approach over the traditional approaches? What compromises must be struck in the course of adopting a bill of rights of this variety? In answering these questions, the book sets out a new framework for comparison that focuses on the types of inter-institutional disagreement facilitated by and found in the different approaches to rights protection. It also identifies a previously unrecognised element of the Commonwealth’s approach – the normative trade-offs with other constitutional principles and values – that is pivotal to understanding its operation. Finally, it seeks to contribute to future debates about rights reform in Australia and elsewhere by setting out a number of lessons that emerge from the answers to these three questions.

 

Published 28 September 2016
Publisher The Federation Press
Hardback/272pp
ISBN 9781760020675
Australian RRP $99.00
International Price $90.00