Constitutional Directives: Morally‐Committed Political Constitutionalism

Tarunabh Khaitan


About 37 state constitutions around the world feature non‐justiciable thick moral commitments (‘constitutional directives’). These directives typically oblige the state to redistribute income and wealth, guarantee social minimums, or forge a religious or secular identity for the state. They have largely been ignored in a constitutional scholarship defined by its obsession with the legitimacy of judicial review and hostility to constitutionalising thick moral commitments other than basic rights. This article presents constitutional directives as obligatory telic norms, addressed primarily to the political state, which constitutionalise thick moral objectives. Their full realisation—through increasingly sophisticated mechanisms designed to ensure their political enforcement—is deferred to a future date. They are weakly contrajudicative in that these duties are not directly enforced by courts. Functionally, they help shape the discourse over a state’s constitutional identity, and regulate its political and judicial organs. Properly understood, they are a key tool to realise a morally‐committed conception of political constitutionalism.

Published July 2019
Frequency Bi-Monthly
Volume 82
Issue 4
Print ISSN 0026-7961
Online ISSN 1468-2230