Thinking of and Working with Constitutional Identity

A prominent notion in comparative constitutional studies, constitutional identity has emerged as very controversial. Hailed as a shield against the aggressive expansion of federalism or as a useful weapon for the defence of human rights, the notion has equally been accused of denoting nationalism or dangerous essentialism. Drawing mostly on examples from Central and Eastern Europe, this paper will interrogate the ideological, legal and political assumptions behind this notion. It will do so against the background of “global constitutionalism”, that is the belief in a universal constitutional vocabulary. Thus, it will try to determine whether there is such a thing as constitutional identity and if so whether it can usefully operate in the realm of legal practice (constitutional adjudication).