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Equality Before the Law is a foundational principle of constitutional governance, intimately connected to the rule of law. It is somewhat surprising then that the principle has been remarkably underexplored in the context of the UK constitution.

This is partially due to a focus on the tension between political discretion in the form of parliamentary sovereignty and a liberty-based conception of the rule of law which emphasises the role that legality plays in checking the abuse of state power and preserving freedom.

Another way of conceptualising the rule of law is grounded in the comparative nature of legal claims and legal reasoning. A background presumption of equality before the law - legal equality - is essential for the intelligibility of law. That presumption, informed by a commitment to the moral equality of persons, grounds the foundation for constitutional order in an obligation to respect the dignity of the legal subject.

All this being said, political discretion within a contemporary democratic state is also the product of principles grounded in equality - political equality. How then should constitutional theory navigate the line between political discretion and the rule of law from within an equality-based framework?

Michael lectures in law at the University of Glasgow. He completed his PhD in Constitutional Theory at the University of Cambridge and holds degrees from the London School of Economics (MSc in Law and Anthropology) and Trinity College Dublin (LLB).

He specialises in constitutional law with a particular focus on the rule of law, legal equality, and the common law constitutional tradition.

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Tuesday 23 April

1.45pm to 2.45pm

Law Clinic Boardroom, Floor 7, BC Building

School of Law