Limiting Power and the Rule of Law:

Constitutionalism Beyond the Constitution


Martin van Staden

Head of Policy

Constitutionalism is one of classical liberalism’s significant legacies in legal thinking. It is the idea that the state must be subject to law; in particular, that state power must be subject to legal limitation. While every written constitutional instrument in the world differs on the scope and extent of this limitation, there is a universal core of rules and limits to which the state is regarded as subject. This core is derived from the very nature and logic of the law, and has been referred to as the ‘Rule of Law.’ Ultimately, the Rule of Law is that legal institution that, as far as possible, attempts to minimise arbitrariness in the content, making, and application of public (state) law.

Martin van Staden won first place (ex aequo) in the European Center for Austrian Economics Foundation’s Sixteenth International Vernon Smith Prize for an essay outlining precisely what the meaning and purpose of the Rule of Law is. He received the award from Prince Michael and Prince Philipp of Liechtenstein in Vaduz in February. Join us as Martin discusses the work that bagged him the recognition of European royalty.