Friday, February 5, 2016

Hickford on New Zealand's Political Constitutionalism

Mark Hickford, Pro Vice-Chancellor and Dean of Law at Victoria University of Wellington, has posted The Historical, Political Constitution -- Some Reflections on Political Constitutionalism in New Zealand's History and its Possible Normative Value, which appeared in the New Zealand Law Review 2013: 585-623:
This article contends that the concept of political constitutionalism in New Zealand is not merely of explanatory value. Rather if it is approached with a historically nuanced sense, then its normative value becomes clearer, with “normative” here meaning a focus on expanding and diversifying areas of contestability and dissent in and through politics as opposed to relying on case-by-case legalism. With reference to the complex histories of Crown-indigenous relations and the development of colonial New Zealand’s constitutional setting in 1852, this article argues that the real, historicised “lives” of the constitution yield normative understandings of our own political constitution in contemporary times. The risk is that, barring a sensitively historical approach, the particular values of political constitutionalism will lie neglected and forgotten. It is analytically inadequate to simply dub these aspects of constitutionalism as “pragmatic” given richer veins of intellectual and political thought were tapped into, deployed, and contested. And these supply a more granular, nuanced picture of historical, political constitutionalism in and as a process.

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