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Dogmatik der grundgesetzlichen Gewaltengliederung

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Despite its great practical importance for the jurisprudence of the German Federal Constitutional Court there has been not too much academic interest in the doctrinal structure of the principle of separated powers in Art. 20 (2) (2) Basic Law since 1949. Many contributions claimed that the principle had no normative value in itself, only being the sum of the more specific norms in the constitution. But even a first look at the case material shows that the German Federal Constitutional Court makes a regular and wide use of the principle. This fact as well as the challenging theoretical problems of the idea of separated powers make it necessary to think over a systematic frame for this constitutional principle.

After an analysis of central propositions of the court and the literary discussion the contribution tries to develop a new account for a systematic doctrine of the concept of "separated powers" that stresses the fact that Art. 20 (2) (2) Basic Law distinguishes between three powers without necessarily separating them: this is the reason to name the underlying principle "Gewaltengliederung", i.e. "arrangement" of powers. The central assumption of this approach is that the main function of a three-parted government is the dissolution of the conflict between democratic collective self-determination and the protection of individual freedom by rule of law standards. Democracy and Rechtsstaat are codified in Art. 20 Basic Law. Both enjoy the same normative value, and both stay in a potential conflict with each other. Instead of solving this conflict by any substantial priority rule the constitution dissolves it by a governmental division of labour in which the law-production of the three branches develops from the open, politicized, future-oriented and general form of legislative decision-making to the legally determined, past-oriented and highly individualized decision-making procedures of the judicial branch. Between these two poles acts the executive branch as a mediating structure. This reconstruction is integrated into the doctrine of the Basic Law and used to give a substantial legal definition of the three branches of government, the rules that govern the legal relationships between them, the meaning of federalism for the concept of a three-parted government, and the role of the constitutional court within this system.

Document Type: Research Article


Publication date: 2007-10-01

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