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Interpreting ConstitutionsA Comparative Study$
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Jeffrey Goldsworthy

Print publication date: 2007

Print ISBN-13: 9780199226474

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: January 2010

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199226474.001.0001

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Germany: Balancing Rights and Duties

Germany: Balancing Rights and Duties

(p.161) 4 Germany: Balancing Rights and Duties
Interpreting Constitutions

Donald P. Kommers

Oxford University Press

Germany's constitutional charter, adopted in 1949, is entitled the Basic Law. The Basic Law had evolved into one of the world's most admired constitutions, even rivalling that of the United States in influence and prestige around the world. So when the day of unity finally arrived in 1990, East and West Germany merged under the imprint of the Basic Law itself. Today, in both structure and substance, although frequently amended, it remains the constitutional text of reunited Germany. This chapter discusses the constitutive assembly of Germany, constituent power and reunification, general features of the Basic Law, supremacy of the constitution, constitutional structure, amending process, the Federal Constitutional Court, problems of constitutional interpretation, conception of the constitution, negative and positive rights, horizontality of rights, sources of interpretation, approaches to interpretation, the civil law tradition, and style of judicial decision-making.

Keywords:   Basic Law, Germany, constitutional interpretation, constitution, negative rights, positive rights, horizontality of rights, civil law, judicial decision-making, Federal Constitutional Court

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