Edited by Rex Ahdar
Chapter 8: Religion, secularism and limitations on constitutional amendment
Constitutional designers often entrench religion and secularism against amendment. We explore the unamendability of religion and secularism in constitutions around the world. We begin, in section 1, with an overview of the formal unamendability of religion and secularism in codified constitutions. In section 2, we analyse how religion and secularism in their unamendable forms have been interpreted; here we distinguish between formal unamendability entrenched in a codified constitution and informal unamendability that arises from judicial interpretation or political practice. We focus on the Constitutions of Canada, India, Iran and Turkey. Section 3 moves from the descriptive to the normative: we state the democratic objection to, as well as the democratic defence of, unamendability. We conclude with thoughts on the uses and misuses of unamendability, and its effectiveness in constraining political actors from exercising or refraining from exercising their delegated powers.
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