n South African Law Journal - The gap between constitutional text and social practice : the role of the press : notes

Volume 125, Issue 2
  • ISSN : 0258-2503
  • E-ISSN: 1996-2177



This year these awards take place at a crucial moment in the development of our constitutional democracy. Such a democracy can flourish only where there exists a basic, shared normative framework upon which the practice of a constitution can be built. Expressed bluntly, where a community cannot establish the most rudimentary of overlapping consensus as to basic values, there can be no long-term future for a constitutional community. If we, as the citizenry, cannot agree about a core meaning of freedom, equality, dignity, democracy, accountability, transparency and integrity, then our constitution will remain a text with no more significance than a document of historical curiosity. John Rawls (1993) understood this requirement well: he sought not the creation of firm agreements on a comprehensive conception of the good. Rather, he insisted that without agreement on a core set of principles of justice, liberal democracy was not possible.

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