Is This Seat Taken? Conversations at the Bar, the Bench and the Academy about the South African Constitution
Edited by Stu Woolman and David Bilchitz
ISBN: 978-0-920538-07-1
Pages: vii 446
Print version: Available
Electronic version: Free PDF available

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About the publication

Now that economic development is starting to pick up in many countries in Africa, the question arises how such development can be balanced with the need for adequate environmental protection. This crucial issue, inherent in the notion of sustainable development, is addressed in this innovative and path-breaking volume. For the first time, academics from seventeen African countries have joined forces to analyse the way in which economic and environmental interests are balanced in their legal systems. The authors all use a common framework to improve the comparability of the country studies. The different country-related chapters do not only provide insights into the formally applicable legal rules (law in the books)., but given that the book brings together academics aware of the practice in Africa, they also describe the way in which environmental policy functions in practice (law in action). Many case studies, with conceptual analyses are provided of pollution incidents and the way in which administrative agencies or courts have on those occasions balanced the interests between the economy, society and the environment. A critical comparative analysis by the editors points at tendencies towards convergence and points of divergence between the African countries. Suggestions for policy reform are also formulated, showing African countries how they can benefit from experiences in the US and Europe.

This thought provoking volume is a must for anyone (academic, policymaker or practitioner) interested in sustainable development generally and in Africa in particular.

About the editors:

Stu Woolman is the Academic Director at the South Africa Institute for Advanced Constitutional, Public, Human Rights and International Law.
David Bilchitz
is Professor at the University of Johannesburg and Director of the South African Institute for Advanced Constitutional, Public, Human Rights and International Law (SAIFAC).

Table of Contents


  • 1. Rationality is dead! Long live rationality! Saving rational basis review
    Michael Bishop
  • 2. The content and justification of rationality review
    Alistair Price
  • 3. Taking diversity seriously: Religious associations and work-related discrimination
    Patrick Lenta
  • 4. On the fragility of associational life: A constitutive liberal’s response to Patrick Lenta
    Stu Woolman
  • 5. Migration, street democracy and expatriate voting rights
    Wessel le Roux
  • 6. Constitutional patriotism or constitutional nationalism? A response to Wessel le Roux
    Karin van Marle
  • 7. Does transformative constitutionalism require the recognition of animal rights?
    David Bilchitz
  • 8. Animal rights and the interpretation of the South African Constitution
    Thaddeus Metz
  • 9. Is there a difference that makes a difference between ubuntu and dignity?
    Drucilla Cornell
  • 10. Where dignity ends and ubuntu begins: An amplification of, as well as an identification of a tension in, Drucilla Cornell’s thoughts
    Yvonne Mokgoro and Stu Woolman
  • 11. Balancing and the limitation of rights in the South African Constitution
    Iain Currie
  • 12. Does balancing adequately capture the nature of rights?
    David Bilchitz
  • 13. Towards a framework for understanding constitutional deference
    Kirsty Mclean
  • 14. Reclaiming the frontier of constitutional deference: Mazibuko v City of Johannesburg – a jurisprudential setback
    Redson Edward Kapindu
  • 15. On the common saying ‘what’s true in golf is true in law’: The relationship between theory and practice across forms of life
    Stu Woolman
  • 16. Theory, practice and the legal enterprise
    David Bilchitz and Juha Tuovinen
  • 17. Between charity and clarity: Kibitzing with Frank Michelman on how to best read the Constitutional Court
    Stu Woolman
  • 18. Old Kibitzes never die: A rejoinder to Stu Woolman
    Frank I Michelman
  • 19. Judicious transparency
    Jonathan Klaaren
    20. In search of a theory of judicious (judicial) transparency: A response to Klaaren
    Richard Calland and Chris Oxtoby

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