Thijmen Koopmans, born in Amsterdam, the Netherlands, in 1929. Ph.D. from the University of Amsterdam. Former Professor of Constitutional and Administrative Law at Leiden University.
Guest of the Rector (Fall 2000)
My project concerns comparative constitutional law. The book I am writing is based on a study of American, British, French and German constitutional law. It focuses on the relationships between the courts and the political institutions (parliaments, governments, the administration). The main subjects covered by this approach are judicial review of legislation, judicial review of government action and judicial protection of individual rights. For each of these three subjects, different solutions have been elaborated in the four constitutional systems in question. The author tries to identify and analyse these solutions, to examine the difficulties they have given rise to, and to speculate about the reasons underlying the differences. The distinctions between the legal systems are clarified by means of 'models', i.e. abstract and simplified descriptions of possible answers to fundamental constitutional questions, such as, for example, the question whether the validity of legislation adopted by Parliament (or Congress) and ratified by the Chief of State can be challenged before the courts. Abstract answers are simply yes or no; but, empirically speaking, answers are always subject to exceptions and qualifications.