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Report No. 95

5.5. French Constitutional Council: jurisdiction and composition.-

In its composition and membership, the French Constitutional Council, is not a judicial or even a strictly legal body. It has nine members, a third of whom are nominated by the President of the Republic, a third by the Speaker of the Lower House of Parliament and a third by the Presiding Officer of the Senate.1 Its jurisdiction was enlarged in 1974, so as to permit any group of 60 members of the Lower House of Parliament or 60 Senators to seize the Council of a constitutional question, there is, therefore, an emerging tendency3 for the French Constitutional Council to proceed to the control of executive policy-making by passing on the compatibility or otherwise of projects of legislation with more general constitutional questions. In this category fall-

(a) the ruling of the Constitutional Council on the legalising of abortions, rendered in 1975 at the instance of members of the Government majority in the Lower House of the French Parliament;

(b) the ruling of the Constitutional Council on the amendments to the general statute on the status of civil servants rendered in 1976;

(c) the ruling of the Constitutional Council on police powers of search and seizures rendered in 1977; and

(d) perhaps the ruling of the constitutional Council on the application of the constitutional principle of self determination (Article 53) to the proposed secession of one of the territories rendered in 1975.2

1. Article 56, Constitution of France.

2. Edward McWhinney, Book Review, in (Summer 1981), Vol. 29, No. 3, AJCL 535, 536.

Constitution Division within the Supreme Court Back

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