Wednesday, February 1, 2017

Wednesdays Around the World: Constitutional Crisis Averted

In Britain, anyway.

The constitutional crisis brewing on the other side of the Atlantic after British courts determined that initiating Brexit would take an Act of Parliament, turned out to be much ado about nothing. Parliament today passed a bill providing authority for the Prime Minister to initiate Article 50 negotiations by an overwhelming margin. Thus, the (unwritten) constitution is satisfied without overturning the direct democracy of the Brexit referendum. Constitutional crisis averted.

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

Wednesdays Around the World: Secretary of State Confirmation Hearings Underway

One of the prime sources of international law recognized by the I.C.J. Statute is international custom. A customary international law is deemed to exist if evidence in the historical record indicates that over time states have observed the rule in practice (state practice) and if diplomatic correspondence or other official state documents support the notion that states engaged in the practice have recognized the rule as part of international law (opinio juris). Thus, when the most powerful state in the world appoints a new chief diplomat, there are potential ramifications for the development of international law.

President-Elect Trump's appointment to Secretary of State has garnered even more interest than usual, as he chose Rex Tillerson, a former corporate executive without government experience, for the post. Furthermore, a number of Senators, including a number from the President-Elect's own party, have expressed concern over Tillerson's ties to Russia. The combination of these factors is sure to make Tillerson's confirmation hearings, which began today, more interesting than the typical confirmation. A number of news sources are offering live coverage of the confirmation hearings on the web, if anyone is interested in watching.

Friday, December 9, 2016

New Titles from November 2016

Check out our Featured Acquisitions page for November 2016 to see the new titles in the Law Library!

A few sample titles:

Wednesday, December 7, 2016

Wednesdays Around the World: Brexit Leads to British Constitutional Crises

Last summer's shock Brexit vote caused the fall of a Prime Minister and the creation of a new Government. Now, that new Government (the British version of an executive branch, except that they're all members of the legislature as well, since they have a parliamentary system) finds itself mired in a court case rife with (unwritten) constitutional implications.

The position of current Prime Minister Theresa May is that the Government can trigger Article 50 of the Treaty for European Union, which governs withdrawals from the E.U., without a vote of Parliament as the Government exercises the royal prerogative in regards to certain foreign affairs. The Prime Minister's opponents (on the Brexit issue, which has tended to blur traditional party lines) assert that because leaving the E.U. would strip British citizens of certain rights (for instance, the right to unrestricted travel throughout the E.U.) under the British Constitution (which is unwritten) only an Act of Parliament can constitutionally invoke Article 50. A British court agreed with the Prime Minister's opponents.

The Government appealed that decision, and the British Supreme Court is now hearing arguments in the case. Today's proceedings saw sparring over whether or not the Brexit referendum (itself authorized by Parliament) implicitly authorized the Government to activate Article 50 without Parliament's assent. Unsurprisingly, the Government said that the referendum did so, while Brexit's opponents argued that under the Doctrine of Parliamentary Sovereignty, parliamentary authority can not legally be delegated by implication but only through express delegation and that the Brexit referendum legislation contained no such express language.

Further complicating the matter are the facts that Scotland voted overwhelmingly to stay in the European Union and that there is are a separate Scottish Parliament and Scottish Government sitting in Holyrood that exercises certain "devolved" powers. Thus, the Lord Advocate of Scotland has now intervened in the Brexit case before the British Supreme Court and has argued that Scotland's Parliament must be consulted under the terms of the most recent Scotland Act (which ironically was passed in the aftermath of a separate, earlier referendum on Scottish independence) and other constitutional acts (including the Act of Union of 1707, which actually created the U.K. in the first place). The British Government's counter argument is again "royal prerogative," though apparently there is some question as to whether that would apply fully in devolved regions.

It will be very interesting to see how the British Supreme Court resolves these unwritten constitutional crises, and the proceedings may prove diverting for anyone wanting to avoid thinking about any potential pending constitutional crises on this side of the Atlantic.

Monday, October 31, 2016

New Titles from October 2016

Check out our Featured Acquisitions page for October 2016 to see the new titles in the Law Library!

A few sample titles: