Building the Constitution

Wednesday, 19 April, 2017 - 16:00

WiSER and the School of Law invite you to a seminar by
James Fowkes
(Professor for Foreign and International Law, Westfälische Wilhelms-Universität Münster)
Building the Constitution
Speaking with reference to his recently published book, Fowkes offers a revisionary perspective on South Africa's celebrated Constitutional Court, drawing on historical and empirical sources alongside conventional legal analysis to show how support from the ANC government and other political actors as underpinned the Court's landmark cases, which are often applauded too narrowly as merely judicial achievements. This argument is crucial to properly understanding the most central elements of the Court's canon (and anti-canon): Makwanyane, the LGBT equality cases, the jurisprudence on voting rights and democracy, the socio-economic rights cases, and the Court's most criticised decisions, such Jordan and Volks v Robinson. Current accounts see the Court as overseer of a negotiated constitutional compromise or as the looked-to guardian against the rising threat of the ANC. In reality, the book argues, South African successes have been built on a broader and more admirable constitutional politics to a degree no previous account has acknowledged. The Court has responded to this context with a substantially consistent but widely misunderstood pattern of deference and intervention. Although a work in progress, this institutional self-understanding represents a powerful effort by an emerging court, as one constitutionally serious actor among others, to build a constitution.
Wednesday, 19th April 2017
WiSER Seminar Room,
6th Floor, Richard Ward Building,
East Campus, Wits University
All welcome.