oa Comparative and International Law Journal of Southern Africa - Constitutional courts - a comparative survey
Control over the constitutional validity of legislation and executive action is now recognised as a basic theme of constitution law. It is based on the assumption that a constitution forms part of the "supreme" or "higher" law which ought to regulate or control the power of legislators. Where there is a written constitution, especially one which prescribes fundamental rights or which provides for a separation of powers or delimits authority between a central government and federal or state units, there is usually today recourse to an authority external to the law-maker on the twin bases that such control over the constitutional validity of the law is firstly a recognition of the special status of the constitution and, secondly, a means of resisting its infringement by legislation because legislation could be an instrument of tyranny and a source of grave abuse. The composition, powers, jurisdiction and functions of the constitutional courts in various countries are compared in this article, looking at the composition of the members of the Court, and the jurisdiction of the Courts in the countries discussed.
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