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The Meta-Constitution: Amendment, Recognition, and the Continuing Puzzle of Supreme Law in Canada

Hamill, S. (2016). The Meta-Constitution: Amendment, Recognition, and the Continuing Puzzle of Supreme Law in Canada. Oxford University Commonwealth Law Journal, 1, pp. 28-64. doi: 10.1080/14729342.2016.1244451

Abstract

This paper uses the idea of the meta-constitution to interrogate issues with Canada’s constitutional amendment and recognition procedures. Put simply, the meta-constitution is that part or parts of a written constitution which are self-referential. Typically, meta-constitutions explain what document(s) make up the constitution and how the constitution can be amended. Most meta-constitutions are simple but Canada’s is not and the difficulties with Canada’s meta-constitution highlight the key legal and political role that this often overlooked constitutional feature plays. In 2014, the Supreme Court of Canada issued decisions in two reference cases which dealt with meta-constitutional issues and, as argued in this paper, the Court used the meta-constitution to greatly expand the scope of what courts regard as supreme law in Canada.

Publication Type: Article
Additional Information: This is an Accepted Manuscript of an article to be published by Taylor & Francis in Oxford University Commonwealth Law Journal, to be available online: http://www.tandfonline.com/toc/rouc20/current.
Subjects: K Law > K Law (General)
Departments: The City Law School > Academic Programmes
URI: http://openaccess.city.ac.uk/id/eprint/15360
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