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The South African Constitutional Court has issued internationally prominent decisions abolishing the death penalty, enforcing socio-economic rights, allowing gay marriage and promoting equality. These decisions are striking given the country’s Apartheid past and the absence of a grand human rights tradition. By contrast, the U.S. Supreme Court has generally ruled more conservatively on similar questions. This book examines the Constitutional Court in detail to determine how it has functioned during South Africa’s transition and compares its rulings to those of the U.S. Supreme Court on similar rights issues. The book also analyzes the scholarly debate about the Constitutional Court taking place in South Africa. It furthermore addresses the arguments of those international scholars who have suggested that constitutional courts do not generally bring about social change. In the end, the book highlights a transformative pragmatic method of constitutional interpretation – a method the U.S. Supreme Court could employ.
• This is the first book to compare leading South African Constitutional Court rights decisions with their American counterparts in some detail • Provides an original examination of South African Courts’ development of a truly African approach to constitutional rights • The first book to provide background on the Constitutional Court’s Justices and about how they approached the transition from an Apartheid judiciary to the judiciary in a multi-racial democracy