International Journal of Constitutional Law & Center for Constitutional Transitions

Courts and constitutional transition: Lessons from the Turkish case

By Aslı Bâli

Judicial independence is understood as a cornerstone of rule-of-law and, as such, an essential component of democratic transitions. But in contexts of democratization, the definition of judicial independence may require refinement to take account of the special challenges of moving from the rule of the few to the rule of the many. In particular, an independent judiciary may stall legislative and constitutional reform by engaging in a form of constitutional review designed to shield elite preferences from democratic reversal. This article explores this problem through a detailed examination of a recent set of controversial constitutional cases in Turkey to illustrate the risks of a narrow definition of judicial independence and explore the appropriate balance between autonomy and accountability of the judiciary in periods of democratic transition or democratic consolidation.

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About the Special Issue

Symposium – Constitutional Transitions in the Middle East

In March 2012, Constitutional Transitions held a symposium on the constitutional reformation of the Middle East and North Africa region in the wake of the Arab Spring. The papers presented at the symposium are collected in this special edition of the International Journal of Constitutional Law (I•CON), with an introduction by Constitutional Transitions Faculty Director Sujit Choudhry. For more information and videos from the 2012 symposium, click here.


Constitutional Transitions generates and mobilizes knowledge in support of constitution building. Constitutional Transitions generates knowledge by identifying issues of critical importance to the success of constitutional transitions, where a lack of adequate, up-to-date research impedes the effectiveness of technical assistance for constitution building, and assembles and leads international networks of experts to complete thematic research projects that offer evidence-based policy options to practitioners. Constitutional Transitions mobilizes knowledge through an innovative clinical program that provides “back office” research support to constitutional advisors in the field, and deploys faculty experts and field researchers for support on the ground. We meet existing field missions’ needs for comprehensive research, dramatically enhancing their effectiveness and efficiency in their role as policy advisors and actors.

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The International Journal of Constitutional Law (I•CON) is published in association with the New York University School of Law, and is dedicated to international and comparative constitutional law. I•CON has international editorial and advisory boards and an international focus. It examines an array of theoretical and practical issues and offers critical analysis of current issues and debates. In addition, I•CON looks at global trends that carry constitutional implications. It features scholarly articles by international legal scholars, judges, and people from related fields, such as economics, philosophy, and political science.

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