Constitutional Sunsets and Experimental Legislation

Constitutional Sunsets and Experimental Legislation

a Comparative Perspective

Elgar Monographs in Constitutional and Administrative Law series

Sofia Ranchordás

This innovative book explores the nature and function of ‘sunset clauses’ and experimental legislation, or temporary legislation that expires after a determined period of time, allowing legislators to test out new rules and regulations within a set time frame and on a small-scale basis. Sofia Ranchordás presents a thorough analysis of sunset clauses and experimental legislation from a comparative perspective, and offers a clear legal framework for their implementation.

Chapter 3: Separation of powers, delegation and a legality framework

Sofia Ranchordás

Subjects: law - academic, comparative law, constitutional and administrative law, politics and public policy, public policy


The fundamental principles of law have often been described in the German literature as limits to the enactment of temporary legislation.Is this also the case of the principle of separation of powers? If we read the United States Constitution, we will not find a ‘principle of separation of powers clause’: it is one of its many unwritten principles that supplement and transcend the meaning of individual constitutional clauses. As Jack Balkin explains ‘it is a principle we derive … from how the various institutions and structures outlined in the constitutional text relate to each other’. It is also a principle to be inferred from history and context that ‘helps preserve political stability and keep the enterprise of governance going when people disagree strongly about what is just or unjust’. The principle of separation of powers is not necessarily a constraint on both sunset clauses and experimental legislation. Instead, in the United States and in Germany, it has been argued that sunset clauses could be enacted to control the excessive powers of the executive. They are an instrument of legislative oversight.

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