By Jacob Weinrib
In an age of constitutional revolutions and reforms, concept and perform are relocating in contrary instructions. As an issue of constitutional perform, human dignity has emerged in jurisdictions world wide because the organizing concept of a groundbreaking paradigm. by way of reconfiguring constitutional norms, institutional buildings and felony doctrines, this paradigm transforms human dignity from a trifling ethical declare right into a felony norm that folks have status to vindicate. As an issue of constitutional idea, in spite of the fact that, human dignity is still an enigmatic thought. a few explicate its which means in abstraction from constitutional perform, whereas others confine themselves to much less exalted rules. the result's a chasm that separates constitutional perform from a idea able to justifying its strategies and guiding its operation. via expounding the relationship among human dignity and the constitutional practices that justify themselves in its gentle, Jacob Weinrib brings the idea and perform of constitutional legislations again jointly.
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Extra info for Dimensions of Dignity: The Theory and Practice of Modern Constitutional Law
Rulers have the right to exercise public authority by imposing coercible legal obligations on the ruled. In turn, the ruled have the right to just governance, which imposes a corresponding obligation on rulers to bring the existing legal order into the deepest possible conformity with the dignity of all who are subject to it. Since notions of authority and justice bind diﬀerent parties to the public law relationship, no contradiction arises from uniting them in a common framework. Because this framework rejects the fragmentation of competing theories that attempt to render the practice of public law intelligible by reducing the whole to one of its aspects, I call it the uniﬁed theory of public law.
Rosen, “Dignity: The Case Against,” in Understanding Human Dignity, 152. Stephen J. Wermiel, “Law and Human Dignity: The Judicial Soul of Justice Brennan,” William & Mary Bill of Rights Journal 7 (1998): 224–8. Wermiel explains that in American jurisprudence of the nineteenth and early twentieth century, dignity referred to an elevated status. ’ On this point, see also Brenda Hale, “Preface,” in Understanding Human Dignity, xv; Stu Woolman in The Dignity Jurisprudence of the Constitutional Court of South Africa, 74 (noting that the South African Constitutional Court ‘recognizes that the history of dignity is a history of the world after World War II’).
When Waldron considers legal systems in which the convention establishing human dignity was not present, he concludes not that these societies were defective because they violated human dignity by dividing persons into ranks of superior and inferior, but that our contemporary understanding of dignity is fundamentally diﬀerent than it was in prior ages. Waldron, “Dignity and Rank,” in Dignity, Rank, and Rights, 14. Waldron, “Law, Dignity, and Self-Control,” in Dignity, Rank, and Rights, 47. , 66.