On June 1st took place the last round of the International Dialogues in Constitutional Law series. The group Constituição, Política e Instituições discussed “The Constitutional Court of South Africa: An Institutional Voice for the Poor?,” featuring Professor Jackie Dugard, from the University of the Witwatersrand. Dugard presented the functioning of the South African constitutional court in regards to the adjudication of social rights and her criticism on the current framework, focused on five features: (i) accessibility, (ii) the reasonableness approach and the programmatic role of the Court’s decisions, (iii) the failure to “take poverty seriously”, (iv) the insufficient scrutiny on evidence and budgets presented by the government when the Court analyzes a social program, and (v) the lack of supervisory jurisdiction.
On Dugard’s view, these problems unveil challenges the South African Court has yet to tackle and that must be addressed in the short-run, in order for the system to preserve its utility and ability to affect and promote social change.
After the initial exposition, several issues were discussed, including the efforts made by the Court to not only promote social rights in case law, but to effectively select justices with a more varied background to its benches.