Constitutional Backsliding: Colombia

Recent scholarship has highlighted the theoretical possibility and examples of the tools of constitutional change being used “abusively,” in order to erode the democratic order. This chapter will explore the experience of constitutional backsliding in Colombia, and the response to those efforts by the Colombian Constitutional Court and other political actors. The chapter will explain the utility of a well-developed doctrine of unconstitutional constitutional amendment as a response to potentially abusive amendments such as term limit extensions. However, it will also highlight the dependence of such a doctrinal response on particular political conditions that often do not hold throughout Latin America.

Institutions Supporting Constitutional Democracy: South Africa

Scholars are increasingly taking note of a species of government institutions that fall outside the traditional separation of powers and have come to be known as the “fifth branch”: these institutions are created by constitutional design to engage in independent oversight and investigation of the other branches. Using South Africa as a case study of “fifth branch” institutions, this chapter dives deeply into the South African cases on corruption (such as the Scorpions litigation, set in its political background) before turning to the more general theme of Chapter 9 institutions in South Africa, then surveying the rise of the fifth branch in constitutional systems around the world. The chapter concludes by evaluating both the value and the limits of the “deep dive” case study approach to understanding topics in constitutional design.

Constitutional Transformation: Hungary

This chapter uses recent developments in Hungary to examine how the equivalent of political revolution can occur through changes that are, taken individually, in compliance in the constitution but collectively amount to wholesale transformation of the constitutional order. It confronts the question of what limits, if any, exist on constitutional revolutions of this type.