Constitutional Supervision

The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.

Constitutional Supervision


in foreign countries, the verification of the conformity of laws and other legislative instruments to the country’s constitution.

Constitutional supervision may be carried out (1) by all courts of general jurisdiction (for example, in the USA, Argentina, Denmark, Mexico, Norway, and Japan), (2) by the supreme court, the highest judicial authority (for example, in Australia, Bolivia, India, Ireland, Canada, the Philippines, Switzerland, and the Republic of South Africa), (3) by special constitutional courts whose main function is constitutional supervision (for example, Austria, Italy, the Federal Republic of Germany, Turkey, and Cyprus), and (4) by a special nonjudicial agency (for example, the Constitutional Council in France).

The subject matter of constitutional supervision may be customary laws, amendments to the constitution, international agreements, rules of procedure of legislative chambers, and legislative instruments of the executive branch (in countries without a system of administrative justice). In federal states the subject matter of constitutional supervision includes questions of the demarcation of jurisdiction of the federation and its members. Constitutional supervision may be formal (verifying the observance of the rules of procedure established for the adoption of laws and other legislative instruments) or substantive (reviewing the content of laws and other legislative instruments from the standpoint of their conformity to the constitution). Contemporary bourgeois countries apply subsequent constitutional supervision, whereby laws that have been adopted and have entered into force are subjected to review (the USA, Italy, and the Federal Republic of Germany), or preliminary constitutional supervision, whereby laws under consideration before the parliament are examined (Sweden, Finland). In France, Mauritania, Gabon, and certain other countries, laws adopted by the parliament are subject to constitutional supervision before they are promul-gated. The agency that carries out constitutional supervision may find that the law either in its entirety or in part contradicts the constitution, in which case these norms lose legal force and cease to be applied by courts and other state agencies.

Constitutional supervision is carried out in all socialist countries, primarily by state agencies, each of which supervises, within the scope of its jurisdiction, the observance of the constitution. Agencies of the courts and of the procuracy, as the chief instruments of ensuring socialist legality, are entrusted with special functions of constitutional supervision. In some socialist countries (Yugoslavia, Czechoslovakia) special constitutional courts have been created.


The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.
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