Hypocrisy as a Constitutional Vice

While hypocrisy is extensively studied by political scientists & theorists, it has received comparatively little attention from constitutional law scholars. This article suggests that the concept warrants scrutiny from a constitutional perspective for several reasons. First, hypocritical government officials present a problem for constitutional law because they present a threat to constitutional values such as the rule-of-law principle that no one, including public officials, is above the law. Second, a government marked by hypocrisy may destabilise a constitutional system by engendering the public feeling that officials are not acting in the public interest. Third, hypocrisy challenges the typical constitutional mechanisms for ensuring accountability. The article illustrates these aspects of hypocrisy as a constitutional vice by reference to a prominent form of hypocrisy that occurred during the COVID-19 pandemic — government officials not obeying COVID-19 containment measures.