The political constitution at 40

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The constitution ‘is no more and no less than what happens’. So wrote Professor John Griffith in the 1978 Chorley Lecture, which was later republished in the Modern Law Review in 1979. It was not the first time that Griffith dangled this tantalizing aphorism before his readers, but it was this lecture that saw it melt into the vocabulary of public law. It might seem trite to spotlight this aphorism from what is a rich and intricate lecture full of important insights as well as memorable phrases. However, as we see it, and writing at the end of March 2019, constitutional practice over the last three years —or, for that matter, the last three months, the last three weeks, or even the last three days—underscores the continuing relevance of Griffith’s insights into the complex and contingent nature of the relationship between law, politics and the constitution.
Original languageEnglish
JournalKing's Law Journal
Issue number1
Publication statusAccepted/In press - 3 Apr 2019


  • constitutional practice
  • John Griffith
  • Chorley Lecture


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