Lecturer in Public Law

Ph.D (EUI)

Biography

Cormac studied law in Belfast and Dublin before being awarded his Ph.D in law by the European University Institute in Florence, Italy which he wrote on the concept of the state in European constitutionalism.

His research interests lie generally in the area of public law, with a particular focus on the following areas:

UK Constitutional law: including the meaning and justification of UK Parliamentary sovereignty; the workings of the UK Human Rights Act 1998; challenges to parliamentary sovereignty from the Human Rights Act, devolution settlements and European integration; the relationship between concepts of sovereignty and the executive; comparative constitutional law.

Public Law and Constitutional Theory: the domain of public law and the public/private divide; the meaning(s) of constitutionalism; the relationship between constitutional law and sovereignty; ideas of constitutional origins including constituent power; the relationship between rights and constitutionalism; the countermajoritairan difficulty; conceptions of justice in constitutional discourse;

The theory and practice of human rights law: the law of the ECHR,  the international human rights regime; theories and justifications of international human rights law; the interface between international human rights and constitutional rights; the application of human rights to private entities.

Post-state law and constitutionalism: the nature and form of law and constitutionalism beyond the state, particularly the EU and ECHR systems; the relationship between post-state law and constitutionalism and the concept of sovereignty; challenges to the concept of sovereignty in the context of legal transnationalism and globalization.

He welcomes queries from potential research students in any of these areas.

Courses Taught

Public Law of the UK and Scotland (Ordinary)

PhD Supervisees

Miroslava Hulvanova  'Margin of appreciation in interpretation of human rights in internal market law'

Anja Lansbergen  'Political rights of European citizens'

Alexander Latham  'Democracy and Judicial Review: a theory of a practice'

Stephen Noon  ''Internal enlargement' within the European Union: legal issues around Scottish independence.'

Edited Books

Claudio Michelon, Neil Walker, Cormac Mac Amhlaigh After Public Law (Oxford University Press, 2013)
Abstract: Public law has been conceived in many different ways, sometimes overlapping, often conflicting. However in recent years a common theme running through the discussions of public law is one of loss. What function and future can public law have in this rapidly transforming landscape, where globalized states and supranational institutions have ever-increasing importance? The contributions to this volume take stock of the idea, concepts, and values of public law as it has developed alongside the growth of the modern state, and assess its continued usefulness as a distinct area of legal inquiry and normativity in light of various historical trends and contemporary pressures affecting the global configuration of law in general. Divided into three parts, the first provides a conceptual, philosophical, and historical understanding of the nature of public law, the nature of private law and the relationship between the public, the private, and the concept of law. The second part focuses on the domains, values, and functions of public law in contemporary (state) legal practice, as seen, in part, through its relationship with private domains, values, and functions. The final part engages with the new legal scholarship on global transformation, analysing the changes in public law at the national level, including the new forms of interpenetration of public and private in the market state, as well as exploring the ubiquitous use of public law values and concepts beyond the state.

Journal Articles

Cormac Mac Amhlaigh 'Revolt by Referendum? In Search of a European Constitutional Narrative' (2009) European Law Journal 552-563

Chapters

Cormac Mac Amhlaigh, Claudio Michelon, Neil Walker 'Introduction' in Claudio Michelon, Neil Walker, Cormac Mac Amhlaigh After Public Law (Oxford University Press, 2013)

Cormac Mac Amhlaigh 'Defending the Domain of Public law' in Claudio Michelon, Neil Walker, Cormac Mac Amhlaigh After Public Law (Oxford University Press, 2013) 103-129

Cormac Mac Amhlaigh 'Late Sovereignty in Post-integration Europe: Continuity and Change in a Constitutive Concept' in Rebecca Adler-Nissen, Ulrik Grad (eds) European Integration and Postcolonial Sovereignty Games: The EU overseas countries and territories (Routledge, 2013)

Cormac Mac Amhlaigh 'Concepts of Law in Integration Through Law' in Daniel Augenstein (eds) 'Integration through Law' Revisited: The Making of the European Polity (Ashgate, 2012) 69

Cormac Mac Amhlaigh 'The European Union's constitutional mosaic: big 'c' or small 'c', is that the question?' in Neil Walker, Jo Shaw, Stephen Tierney Europe's Constitutional Mosaic (Hart, 2011)

Notes and Reviews

Cormac Mac Amhlaigh 'Book Review: The Twilight of Constitutionalism?' (2011) Public Law 669-673

Cormac Mac Amhlaigh 'Book Review: Panu Minkkinen, Sovereignty, Knowledge, Law' (2011) Social & Legal Studies 20 263

Cormac Mac Amhlaigh 'Revisiting the Rule of Law under the European Convention of Human rights' (2010) Edinburgh Law Review 143

Cormac Mac Amhlaigh 'Book Review: Current Legal Problems 2008' (2010) Edinburgh Law Review Vol 14 2010 157 [Download]

Working Papers

Cormac Mac Amhlaigh 'Book Review: P. Dobner & M. Loughlin The Twilight of Constitutionalism? (Oxford University Press 2010)', School of Law Working Paper Series, 2011/02 (SSRN, 2011) [Download]
Abstract: This working paper is a review of P. Dobner & M. Loughlin The Twilight of Constitutionalism? (OUP 2010).

Cormac Mac Amhlaigh 'Concepts of Law in Integration Through Law (and the Price of Constitutional Pluralism)', School of Law Working Paper Series, 2011/03 (SSRN, 2011) [Download]
Abstract: This paper explores the concept of law in European integration studies with a particular emphasis on the conception adopted in the Integration Through Law project which was based in the European University Institute in the 1980s. It argues that notwithstanding claims to the contrary, the conception of law adopted in the project was a legal positivist one and that this is evidenced in its conception of law as the 'object' and 'instrument' of integration. The first part of the paper develops this thesis by arguing, firstly, that characterizing EU law as the 'object' of integration entails a Razian conception of the authority of law which results in the integration of national legal systems, and then, secondly, that law as the 'instrument' of integration entails a functionalist conception of law which is necessarily positivist. The second part of the paper goes on to highlight the tension between this positivist conception of EU law and the federal principle which was central to the ITL project, given that the former relies on the resolution of the question of ultimate authority (the sources thesis brand of positivism) whereas the latter tends towards its irresolution. It argues that the emerging literature on constitutional pluralism in the EU implicitly endorses the federal principle of the ITL project at the cost of the positivist conception of EU law and that this is evidenced by the shift in models of constitutional pluralism from legal positivist conceptions of law to a more Dworkinian 'principled' form as exemplified in the work of Mattias Kumm. However, the paper concludes that this shift comes at a price which is potentially problematic in a fragile political community such as the EU, where the stakes are much higher than that of the sovereign state.

Cormac Mac Amhlaigh 'Questioning Constitutional Pluralism', School of Law Working Paper Series, 2011/17 (SSRN, 2011) [Download]
Abstract: The contemporary legal landscape is one of a plurality of normative orders which exist alongside the conventional legal systems of states and public international law. That these systems interact and frequently conflict both with state law and international law and with each other is an increasingly common fact of modern legal practice. The concept of constitutionalism is frequently employed as a way of understanding these post-state regimes as well as a method of managing the inevitable conflicts between legal orders in a pluralist legal universe. In Europe, in particular, constitutionalism has featured prominently legal pluralist discourse in two important respects. Firstly, it has been employed as a way of theorizing non-state legal systems such as that of the European Union and the European Convention of Human Rights. Secondly, constitutionalism has been proposed as a frame within which to understand and manage legal pluralism in Europe and in particular as a framework for the resolution of conflicts between such orders. The the received wisdom in this literature is that pluralism and conflicts between EU and national law are amenable to resolution according to a robustly constitutionalist framework whereas ECHR conflicts with national law are of a more radical pluralist form, and therefore less 'constitutionalist'. This paper challenges this orthodox position. It traces the genealogy of pluralism in the EU and ECHR orders, concluding that a pluralist conception of EU law cannot be constitutional due to the fact that conflicts between the EU and national law are contests of sovereignty, whose resolution in a constitutional frame is question-begging. The interaction between the ECHR and national legal systems, on the other hand, the paper argues, are precisely the sort of conflict where the concept of constitutionalism can do real work at the post-state level. In presenting this taxonomy as a better way of understanding normative pluralism in Europe, it concludes by introducing an argument against pluralism in the relationship between EU law and national law, arguing that the attitude of national courts such as the German Constitutional Court should be viewed as a form of institutional civil disobedience which is a normal aspect of any constitutional order, rather than requiring the positing of an overarching constitutional frame binding EU and national courts.

Cormac Mac Amhlaigh 'Late Sovereignty in post-integration Europe: Continuity and change in a constitutive concept', School of Law Working Paper Series (SSRN, 2011) [Download]
Abstract: This paper examines the state of sovereignty in post-integration Europe. Drawing on linguistic approaches to law and IR, it interrogates Neil Walker's conception of 'late sovereignty', in terms of how it manages the problem of continuity and change in concepts in transition as well as the constitutive and regulative rules of late sovereignty games. The transition from what the paper calls 'high sovereignty' to 'late sovereignty' entails a broadening of the range of actors who play late sovereignty games to include non-sovereign state entities such as the EU, a redefinition of the 'particularising' element of ultimate authority from territory to function, and an evolution of the criteria for what constitutes a 'good' sovereignty claim as stipulated by the regulative rules of late sovereignty games. It concludes by assessing the relevance of late sovereignty for the trilateral relationship between the non-continental territories of EU Member States, the Member states themselves and the EU.

Cormac Mac Amhlaigh 'Concepts of Law in Integration Through Law (and the Price of Constitutional Pluralism)', School of Law Working Paper Series (SSRN, 2011) [Download]
Abstract: This paper explores the concept of law in European integration studies with a particular emphasis on the conception adopted in the Integration Through Law project which was based in the European University Institute in the 1980s. It argues that notwithstanding claims to the contrary, the conception of law adopted in the project was a legal positivist one and that this is evidenced in its conception of law as the 'object' and 'instrument' of integration. The first part of the paper develops this thesis by arguing, firstly, that characterizing EU law as the 'object' of integration entails a Razian conception of the authority of law which results in the integration of national legal systems, and then, secondly, that law as the 'instrument' of integration entails a functionalist conception of law which is necessarily positivist. The second part of the paper goes on to highlight the tension between this positivist conception of EU law and the federal principle which was central to the ITL project, given that the former relies on the resolution of the question of ultimate authority (the sources thesis brand of positivism) whereas the latter tends towards its irresolution. It argues that the emerging literature on constitutional pluralism in the EU implicitly endorses the federal principle of the ITL project at the cost of the positivist conception of EU law and that this is evidenced by the shift in models of constitutional pluralism from legal positivist conceptions of law to a more Dworkinian 'principled' form as exemplified in the work of Mattias Kumm. However, the paper concludes that this shift comes at a price which is potentially problematic in a fragile political community such as the EU, where the stakes are much higher than that of the sovereign state.

Cormac Mac Amhlaigh 'Revisiting the Rule of Law Under the European Convention of Human Rights: Gillan and Quinton v. the United Kingdom', School of Law Working Paper Series, 2010/24 (SSRN, 2010) [Download]
Abstract: This case note considers the rule of law implications of the European Court of Human Rights' decision in Gillan and Quinton v. UK (App no 4158/05, 12 Jan 2010, nyr) involving the UK's stop and search powers under the Terrorism Act 2000.

Cormac Mac Amhlaigh 'Book Review: Panu Minkkinen, 'Sovereignty, Knowledge, Law' ', School of Law Working Paper Series, 2010/30 (SSRN, 2010) [Download]
Abstract: This Working Paper is a review of Panu Minkkinen's 'Sovereignty, Knowledge, Law' (Abingdon: Routledge, 2009).

Cormac Mac Amhlaigh 'The European Union's Constitutional Mosaic: Big 'C' or Small 'C', is that the Question?', School of Law Working Paper Series, 2010/31 (SSRN, 2010) [Download]
Abstract: This paper examines Europe's Constitutional mosaic by focusing on the constitutional mosaic which makes up European Union constitutional discourse. It identifies the current state of EU constitutional discourse as a mosaic of different trends, the contours of which are briefly traced. It then argues that trends in EU constitutional discourse have ignored or suppressed the idea of sovereignty (hence the small 'c' adjective) and that this has resulted in difficulties both with relation to the conceptual coherence of constitutionalism and affects its usefulness as a way of understanding the polity. It argues that the constitutional idea is incorrigibly linked to the concept of sovereignty and that any constitutional discourse, even at the EU level, must entail sovereignty. It goes on to provide a sovereignty-inspired reading of EU constitutionalism through a particular reading of the European Court of Justice's constitutionalization of the Treaties and in its recent Kadi decision.

Cormac Mac AmhlaighAndrew Glencross, 'Sovereignty in the EU Constitutional Order: Integrating Law and Political Science', School of Law Working Paper Series, 2009/20 (SSRN, 2009) [Download]

Papers and Presentations

Cormac Mac Amhlaigh 'What is (Global) Constitutionalism?' presented at Administrative Law Beyond the State, University of Uppsala, Sweden, 2012

Cormac Mac Amhlaigh 'Questioning Constitutional Pluralism in Europe' presented at CIG Seminar Series, Centre for International Governance, School of Law, University of Leeds, 2012

Cormac Mac Amhlaigh 'Legitimizing (Legal and Political) Constitutionalism.' presented at Political Constitutions, London, 2012

Cormac Mac Amhlaigh 'The EU Sovereignty Experience: Continuity and Change in a Constitutive Concept' presented at Micropolities in the Margins of Europe - Postcolonial Sovereignty Games, Ilisimatusarfik (University of Greenland), Nuuk, Greenland, 2011

Andy Aitchison, Cormac Mac Amhlaigh, Andrew Neal 'Global Uncertainties (Round Table)' presented at Centre for Law and Society Seminar Series, Edinburgh, 2010