Volume 76, Number 1

April 2001

Sovereignty in Comparative Perspective: Constitutionalism in Britain and America

Lord Irvine of Lairg

Lord High Chancellor, United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland.

Madison Lecture

In this James Madison Lecture series, the Lord Chancellor, Lord Irvine of Lairg, observes that the American system of constitutional supremacy and judicial review shares many common features with the British unwritten constitution’s emphasis on parliamentary sovereignty without judicial review. While the two systems are often described as polar opposites, Lord Irvine argues that both operate in a context of democratic government and translate substantially identical commitments to popular sovereignty into distinct, yet related, approaches to constitutionalism.