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Constitutional jurisprudence in the Supreme Court of Venezuela

Constitutional jurisprudence in the Supreme Court of Venezuela
Nelson Richard Dordelli-Rosales


Faculty of Law, University of Ottawa, Ottawa, ON K1N 6N5, CANADA.


The prime focus of this dissertation consists in exploring constitutional jurisprudence in the Supreme Court of Venezuela over the last five decades, making use of arguments drawn from Venezuelan history and the existing jurisprudential approaches to theories about the general character of law as integrated in numerous public law cases. This study offers a new approach, one that focuses on ensuring that fundamental constitutional principles are aligned with the concrete objectives (purposes) that the Constitution sets out to achieve. This account is developed through a theoretical framework comprising of: I. A historical overview from independence (1811) to democratization (1947 and beyond), emphasizing the fundamentals of the Constitutions of 1961 and 1999, to portray a vivid and accurate picture of the origins of Venezuela’s constitutional democracy; II. A survey, of constitutional cases that illustrates the evolution of the Venezuelan constitutional jurisprudence under the overt or subliminal use of certain default legal theories, namely, legal positivism in the era of the 1961 Constitution, legal realism and Ronald Dworkin’s adjudication theory in the era of the 1999 Constitution III. An insightful discussion of the main arguments of Ronald Dworkin’s principled theory and Justice Aharon Barak’s purposive theory, in an effort to build theoretical support, which links the various points of their respective theories in order to articulate one in the context of the Venezuelan jurisprudence; IV An original attempt to build a theoretical approach based on the Venezuelan constitutional system, history, culture, and identity to bring together the priorities of formalism, particularly the written principles of the Constitution and the priorities of functionalism and social welfare. This is to ensure that the Supreme Court decides accordingly with the constitutional principles as much as their underlying purposes to provide solutions to legal conundrums.