Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin - Integrative Research Institute Law & Society (LSI)

Constitutional law and states of exception


Prof. Dr. Anna-Bettina Kaiser, LL.M. (Cambridge)


This project investigates the ability of constitutional law to regulate situations in times of crisis. It departs from the observation that political actors increasingly rely on constellations of existential exceptions for the polity in order to either completely dispose of their legal obligations or at least apply a loosened regime based on exceptional circumstances (crisis, states of emergency, etc.). The organizational norms of the state are thereby affected, while basic rights are restricted (or at least under threat thereof). We can point to terrorist attacks on and after Sept. 11, 2001, as well as economic, financial, euro, debt and bank crises as critical cases, which have been used – above all – by the German federal government and the parliament, but also by bodies such as the European Union, the European Commission and the European Central Bank, as a basis for calling for written or unwritten exceptions and claiming legal liberties. These examples certainly call for intensive investigation into the crisis-related exceptions in law, with special attention paid to relevant insights from neighboring disciplines (in particular history and political sciences).