Francis Hamon, Céline Wierner

The Law Under Surveillance Publication date : February 1, 1999

During the past twenty years, the constitutional councilhas intervened in practically all legislative reforms thathave been made in France. The law has had to confrontthe rules of the Constitution in cases involvingnationalisations, privatisations, the legalisation ofabortion, and educational freedom. And whenever the lawhas been at variance with constitutional rules, it has beencensured.The authors describe the magnitude of constitutionalcontrol in France and explain how it came about. To whatextent can the Constitution effectively be used to makerulings about situations that were undreamt of when theConstitution was written – for example, geneticengineering, limitations concerning the principle ofequality, or the freedom to promote ideas regarded asdangerous? Because of its nature, origin and content, isthe Constitution necessarily of greater democratic valuethan the law? And practically speaking, how can therequirements of the Constitution accommodate theincreasing control exercised by community law? Shouldthe power of modern judges be feared? Is the power andprestige of the democratically elected Parliament underthreat? La Loi sous Surveillance raises the issue of how powerwill be shared in modern democracies.Francis Hamon teaches public law at the University ofParis-XI. He is the author of Réinventer le Parlement(Flammarion, 1978) and L’Héritage de la RévolutionFrançaise (Septentrion, 1994).A former research director at the Centre National de laRecherche Scientifique, Céline Wiener is now a chiefadministrative inspector of State schools. She is theauthor of L’Evolution des Rapports entrel’Administration et les Usagers (Economica, 1991) andLe Contrôle de l’Administration et la Protection desCitoyens (Cujas, 1993).