Open Access Te Herenga Waka-Victoria University of Wellington
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Democracy, Constitutionalism and the Rule of Law: Beholden to Constituent Power

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posted on 2021-11-14, 05:01 authored by Sage, Ivan

Democratic government serves two purposes, both requiring that the substantive element of the rule of law be adhered to. A living constitution is required by a government to able to maintain civil society, which is the main occupation of the rule of law and, secondly, the rule of law also vouchsafes rights and freedoms. Hence, the rule of law enforced by the courts is the factor that controls the constitution, and increasingly this includes controlling the government, both the legislature and executive. This paper considers the capacities of democracy, constitutionalism and the rule of law, in the context of both New Zealand’s unwritten and America’s written constitutions, with the view of locating the constitution making power (constituent power). The power that makes and changes the constitution was originally found with the people, parliament, and the executive. However, a modern formulation of the rule of law that seeks to replace parliamentary supremacy as the ultimate principle of legality appears to be arising. An egalitarian society is becoming the preferred option by all parties. In this context, the constitution making power will be with the vessel that is working towards creating such a society. To that end, the paper recommends a Constitutional Commission for New Zealand that would review legislation for constitutionality, including adherence to the rule of law. The objective of the Constitutional Commission would be to recommend the review of law for constitutionality, including adherence to the rule of law.


Copyright Date


Date of Award



Te Herenga Waka—Victoria University of Wellington

Rights License

Author Retains Copyright

Degree Grantor

Te Herenga Waka—Victoria University of Wellington

Degree Name

Graduate Certificate in Law

ANZSRC Type Of Activity code

970118 Expanding Knowledge in Law and Legal Studies

Victoria University of Wellington Item Type

Research Paper or Project



Victoria University of Wellington School

School of Law


Colon-Rios, Joel