HKU Faculty of Law 50th Anniversary Distinguished Lecture Series – “Is Transformative Constitutionalism an Illusion?”

Courts and commentators have attributed to some constitutions a transformative commitment. This attribution gives rise to at least four puzzles: the conceptual puzzle, the possibility puzzle, the institutional puzzle, and the performance puzzle. The conceptual puzzle is how to understand ‘transformative constitutionalism’? The possibility puzzle is whether constitutionalism can be transformative. The institutional puzzle relates to what institutional arrangements are presupposed by the implementation of transformative constitutionalism. The final puzzle refers to the performance of transformative constitutionalism. There is disagreement in the literature concerning the extent to which transformative constitutions have actually produced the desired changes, or if they have become unintended sham constitutions.

This lecture by Justice Carlos Bernal Pulido undertakes a critical analysis of the four puzzles. As a result of the analysis, it makes two arguments. First, it proposes that transformative constitutionalism is, to a remarkable extent, actually an illusion. Second, it suggests a restatement of essential tenets. In particular, the lecture advances a model of collaborative constitutionalism that highlights the functions of the legislature and the executive, and the contribution to the transformation of private and international powers, as well.

Date: 19 September 2019 (Thu)

Time: 6:30 pm

Venue: Academic Conference Room, 11/F Cheung Yu Tung Tower, Centennial Campus, The University of Hong Kong