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Comparative Constitutional Law

Comparative Constitutional Law

Research Handbooks in Comparative Law series

Edited by Tom Ginsburg and Rosalind Dixon

This landmark volume of specially commissioned, original contributions by top international scholars organizes the issues and controversies of the rich and rapidly maturing field of comparative constitutional law.

Chapter 9: Citizenship and the Boundaries of the Constitution

Kim Rubenstein and Niamh Lenagh-Maguire

Subjects: law - academic, comparative law, constitutional and administrative law


Kim Rubenstein and Niamh Lenagh-Maguire 1 INTRODUCTION Citizenship is a prime site for comparisons between different constitutional systems, for the idea of citizenship, and the ideals it is taken to represent, go to the heart of how states are constituted and defined. Who is governed by the constitution? What are the boundaries of the constitution? The definition of the class of ‘citizens’ of a state and the identification of their rights, privileges and responsibilities is one way to answer these questions, and is a core function of national constitutions and a central concern of public law. In this chapter, we consider several written constitutions and attempt to convey some of the diversity in constitutional approaches to this fundamental and universal project for nation states. It is tempting to suggest a thematic approach in this chapter by providing labels to the different constitutional models we discuss that are not country-specific. These could be ‘constitutional’, ‘quasi-constitutional’ and ‘statutory models’ of citizenship but, as the case studies we examine illustrate, complexities arise in asserting such categories. Instead, the goals of the chapter are fairly modest: the aim is to present, briefly, a selection of constitutional approaches and to examine how those different systems have dealt with similar issues. We then make some preliminary suggestions about what these examples reveal about constitutional citizenship, and about the process of comparing constitutions. Given this chapter is not a comprehensive survey, we have chosen a small number of countries that meet two criteria. The comparator nations, Australia,...

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