Constitutional Interpretation

Course outline

The course concerns two broad and connected questions of contemporary constitutional theory: how judicial institutions, constitutional courts and governmental bodies apply and interpret the constitution (question of description), and how to decide constitutional meaning or which approach to the meaning of the constitution is best (question of normativity). The first part of the course gives an overall assessment of the theoretical considerations of judicial reasoning and interpretation. The second part of the course will touch upon specific methodological issues of interpretation (textualism, originalism, intentionalism, structuralism, doctrinalism, minimalism, pragmatism, moral-philosophical reading). The final part of the course will elaborate the contemporary features of the comparative method and the migration of constitutional ideas (constitutional borrowing). In addition, the course will examine the main methodological principles and approaches developed by international human rights institutions (e.g. the European Court of Human Rights).


One of the primary objectives of the course is to enable the participants to get a proper view on the theoretical foundations of constitutional reasoning and interpretation. Another aim of the course is to give the means to the participants to develop their analytical and critical legal skills. With the help of text reading and case studies, students will be able to identify methodological problems, difficulties of reasoning, and conclusive judicial arguments. These are skills of high importance in legal theory and practice.


  • Sotirius A. Barber – James E. Fleming, Constitutional Interpretation, The Basic Questions; Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2007. ISBN 978-0-19-532857-8
  • Jefferey Goldsworthy: Constitutional Interpretation; In Rosenfeld—Sajó (eds), The Oxford Handbook of Comparative Constitutional Law. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2012, 689-717. ISBN 978-0-19-957861-0


  • Norman Dorsen, Michel Rosenfeld, András Sajó, Susanne Baer: Comparative Constitutionalism, Cases and Materials; West Publishing, 2010, 2nd edition, 1-1601, ISBN 978-0-314-17946-3
  • Ronald Dworkin: Freedom’s Law: The Moral Reading of the American Constitution; Cambridge, Mass: Harvard University Press, 1999, ISBN 0-674-31927-3
  • Grant Huscroft (ed.): Expounding the Constitution, Essays in Constitutional Theory; Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2011. ISBN 978-0-521173346
  • George Letsas: A Theory of Interpretation of the European Convention on Human Rights; Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2009. ISBN 978-0199563883.
  • János Kis: Constitutional Democracy; Budapest, New York: Central European University Press, 2003. ISBN 963-9241-28-8


Eszter Bodnár

Zoltán Pozsár-Szentmiklósy


Cím Fájlnév Létrehozva Méret
Cím Fájlnév Létrehozva Méret
Slide1 CONSTITUTIONAL INTERPRETATION_1.pptx 2019.02.28. 486.88 KB
Barber_Fleming Barber_Fleming.pdf 2019.02.28. 2.36 MB
Goldsworthy Goldsworthy.pdf 2019.02.28. 293.63 KB
Slide2 CONSTITUTIONAL INTERPRETATION_2.pptx 2019.02.28. 337.01 KB
Barak Barak.pdf 2019.03.18. 189.49 KB
Change Constitutional change.pdf 2019.03.18. 232.82 KB
Slide3 CONSTITUTIONAL INTERPRETATION_3.pptx 2019.03.18. 288.91 KB
Dixon Dixon.pdf 2019.03.18. 233.65 KB
Slide4 CONSTITUTIONAL INTERPRETATION_4.pptx 2019.04.17. 299.83 KB
Kai Moller Kai Möller.pdf 2019.05.06. 359.84 KB
PszZs PSzZ.pdf 2019.05.06. 48.79 KB
written Written exercise.docx 2019.05.06. 12.97 KB