Locating big laws in small places:a review

Author:Tsegaye R Ararssa
Position:PhD Candidate at Melbourne University Law School
Pages:139-143
 
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DOI http://dx.doi.org/10.4314/mlr.v7i1.7
LOCATING BIG LAWS IN SMALL PLACES:
A REVIEW
Tsegaye R Ararssa
Michael Burgess and G Alan Tarr, eds. (2012), Constitutional Dynamics in
Federal Systems: Sub-national Perspectives (Montreal and Kingston: Forum of
Federations and McGill, Queen’s University Press) 338 +xii pages.
One of the consequences of having a federal system in place is the potential
availability of the opportunity for dual constitutionalism, the co-existence of
federal and sub-national constitutions side by side. Federalizing a formerly
unitary state (often referred to as federation by devolution, or holding-together
federations) leads to the ‘creation’ or the vacation of some spaces for what I
choose to call ‘big laws in smaller places’. Thus, constituent units that hardly
had powers to generate their own laws come to claim the opportunity to make
such laws including basic and fundamental laws such as their own constitutions.
This ‘space’ vacated by the ‘national’ state of formerly unitary states or left to
constituent units by a newly formed (aggregated) federal states has increasingly
come to be referred to as ‘sub-national constitutional space’.1 The sub-national
constitutional space is a realm in which the right to one’s own constitution (i.e.,
the right to constitutional texts, institutions, processes, and constitutional
Tsegaye R Ararassa is a PhD Candidate at Melbourne University Law School. He can be
reached at tsegayer@gmail.com.
1 Articles and collected essays edited in a book in recent years incude, but not limited to
the following: Tarr, ‘Explaining Sub-national Constitutional Space’ (2011) 115 Penn
State Law Rev. 1133; Robert F Williams, ‘Teaching and Researching Sub-national
Constitutional Law’ (2011) 115 Penn State Law Rev. 1109; Jonathan Marshfield,
‘Models of Sub-national Constitutionalism’ (2011) 115 Penn State Law Review, 1151;
Tsegaye Regassa, ‘Sub-national Constitutions in Ethiopia: Towards Entrenching
Constitutionalism at State level’ (2009) 3 Mizan Law Rev. 33; G Alan Tarr, Robert
Williams, and Josef Marko, eds, Federalism, Sub-national Constitutions, and Minority
Rights Westport, CT: Praeger 2004.; Giacomo Delledonne and Giuseppe Martinico,
‘Exploring Subnational Constitutionalism: A Special Issue’ (2012) 4(2) Perspectives
on Federalism. This is in addition to the Kluwer series monographs on state
constitutions.
B R

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