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美国宪政民主的基本要素

美国宪政民主的基本要素

   

   

   

   郭国汀

   

   

   

   美国自由宪政民主是政府权力受到分权制衡机制限制的宪政民主体制。美国宪法的结构主要考虑两层分权:一是将政府权力纵向分为联邦主权和各州主权两层;二是将联邦权力横向分为行政、立法和司法三个政府部门。此种纵、横双向分权制衡的政治结构被称作联邦分权制。[1]自十九世纪以来,特别是二次世界大战后,世界民主大潮势不可挡,绝大多数拉丁美洲国家在上个世纪九十年代,所有南半球的34个国家除了古巴之外,全部实现了竞争性民主选举,并总体上实现了自由市场经济[2]。到2010年,东欧前共产党国家包括罗马尼亚,阿尔巴尼亚,及前南斯拉夫(分解成七个国家)百分之百实现了竞争性自由宪政民主。唯有俄国民主化进程在普金主导下倒退成“不自由的民主”或“竞争性独裁专制”。

   

   

   

   宪政体制政府,由个人定期选择若干公民作为人民的代表服务于政府,行使立法权和监督权。[3]‘永远的警惕是自由的代价’。宪法作为国家根本大法其规定至关重要,但是,正如恒德法官早年所指出,‘人民心中所思所想更为重要。人民愿意捍卫那些权利是维护这些权利的关健’。[4]自由选举权,政治反对的合法性,限制任意逮捕、监禁和惩罚,及保障少数派权利是自由宪政民主体制的四项基本要素。

   

   

   

   有限宪政民主的首要与最明显的要素乃是确定定期自由公平选举,这实际上是引导政府变革的动因。宪法规定了人民得自由组织与参与定期选举的规则。这些选举必定会导致那些实际拥有管理国家的权力的人民群体变革[5]。

   

   

   

   政治对抗的合法性是有限宪政民主的第二要素,其与第一要素密切相关。这种人民有权批评政府政策,有权批判宪政体制的结构,特别是政府的动议与政策的观念,以及主张人民对管理国家的最高权力的观念,是自由民主宪政健康成长的必要前提,其逻辑结果则是:个人必须有政治异议而免受逮捕和劫持的自由。[6]人民还必须有权自由经营社会媒体。“国会不得制定任何压缩言论自由或出版自由的法律”。美国最高法院法官曾判定该第一修正案的核心是政治异议权以及以不仅使政府讨厌,而且令大多数人民反感的方式,反对政府政策的表达自由权。[7]亦即在美国政治言论绝对自由。

   

   

   

   有限宪政民主的第三项基本要素乃是人民免受任意逮捕和监禁的自由及获得公正审判权的保障。[8]如果人民随时得担心自已的人身自由,或可能因言获罪或随时处于被当局非法查非法逮捕或枉法裁判的境地,自由宪政民主将不复存在。

   

   

   

   有限宪政民主的第四项要素乃是尊重少数派权利的制度。该要素的一项基本要求乃是政府不应干预某个自视为少数派,以他们自已愿意的方式组织他们自已的私有的文化,宗教,和教育事务的人民群体的权利。少数派权利有关政治权利的问题更加重要,亦即在何种程度上应当允许少数派组织地方政治自治的某种措施,及是否应当有参与国家政治程序的保障。[9]

   

   

   

   保障该体制的一项前提要件乃是有一个独立的司法,能够强制实施保护该体制的规则。欲使此种体制能够实际运作,必须在正式的宪政结构之外,存在独立的旨在保护这些权利的私人组织,亦即介于个人与政府之间的公民社会。[10]最后,如何保护这种有限宪政政府免受来自内外那些不支持有限宪政政府的人的篡夺有一个问题,对此美国宪法起草者们使联邦政府负责维持一个共和的政府形式。他们不仅担心外国的军事侵犯,而且也担心内部的骚乱。他们还担心某个州的人民会选举一个国王。因此,他们对在自由选举中人民可以做什么强加了一项限制。他们并未设立直接的纯民主,而是设立了一个有限的宪政政府,因为他们认识到政府必须防止外部的军事侵犯,同时必须防止来自人民自已非法颠覆政府的渴望。[11] 因此,宪政从某种意义是即限政。吾以为联邦自由宪政民主政体是未来自由中国的最佳政体。因为中国是个由汉族与56个少数民族共同组成的多民族极复杂的国土面织居世界第四位,人口高达十四亿的超级大国,而世界上大国除了中国之外,全部是联邦制国家。联邦分权制最有利于多民族大国,是因为其既能保持大国综合优势,又能充分保障地方自治和个人自由。

   

   [1] See Erwin Chemerinsky, Federal Jurisdiction 1.5 (2d ed. 1994). Two major concerns dominate the structure of the United States Constitution: they are the allocation of governmental authority between the federal and state sovereigns and the distribution of federal authority within the executive, legislative, and judicial branches of government. These themes are often described by the terms federalism and the separation of powers

   

   [2] most of Latin America in the '90s. By the mid-'90s, all thirty-four hemisphere nations except Cuba had democratically-elected governments and, in general, free market economies.

   

   [3] ..Jonathan R. Macey, Representative Democracy, 16 HARV. J.L. & PUB. POL'Y 49 n. 1 (1992). "constitutional system of government, whereby individuals elect fellow citizens to serve as their representatives.

   

   * Director of the Washington Office of The American Civil Liberties Union.

   

   [4] John Philot Curran, 1790, in JOHN Battler, FA. major Quotations 397 (15th ed. 1980). Eternal vigilance is the price of liberty." What is written in a constitution is important, but what is in the people's hearts and minds, as Judge Hand told us a long time ago, is much more important. People's willingness to struggle for those rights is critical to the maintenance of those rights.

   

   [5] The first and most obvious element is the set of procedures for periodic free elections which actually lead to a change in government. the first element of a limited constitutional democracy is rules which provide for periodic elections in which people are free to organize and participate. Those elections must also lead to a change in the group of people who actually have the power to run the country.

   

   [6] The second element, closely related to the first, is the legitimacy of political opposition. This is the notion that people have a right to criticize the policies of the government, the structure of the constitutional system, particular initiatives or policies of the government, and to proclaim their superior ability to govern the country. Individuals must be free to disagree without fear of arrest and abduction.

   

   People must also be able to get access to the media of the society. "Congress shall make no law ... abridging the freedom of speech or of the press."[7] The Supreme Court has said that at the core of this amendment is the right of political dissent, and the right to express one's opposition to the government's policies in ways that are obnoxious to not only the government, but to most of the people

   

   [7] See Simon & Schuster, Inc. v. Members of the N.Y. State Crime Victims Bd., 112 S. Ct. 501, 509 (1991) (applying strict scrutiny test to strike an ordinance which financially burdened the publishing of criminal accounts); Hustler Magazine, Inc. v. Falwell, 485 U.S. 46, 55 (1987) (refusing to accept a subjective standard of "outrageousness" to prohibit the publication of political cartoons which some persons may deem to be offensive); FCC v. Pacifica Foundation, 438 U.S. 726, 745 (1977) (stating that "Mhe fact that society may find speech to be offensive is not a sufficient reason for suppressing it"); see also R.A.V. v. St. Paul, 112 S. Ct. 2538 (1992) (invalidating an ordinance which criminalizes bias-motivated disorderly conduct such as cross-burning, since an ordinance discriminates according to the content of the speech); Texas v. Johnson, 491 U.S. 397 (1989) (finding flag desecration law inconsistent with the First Amendment). But see United States v. O'Brien, 391 U.S. 367 (1968) (affirming a conviction for burning a conscription registration card despite the symbolic message of such an act).

   

   [8] The third essential element of a limited constitutional democracy is a system which leaves people free from fear of arbitrary arrest and detention, and guarantees the right to a fair trial.

   

   [9] The fourth element of a limited constitutional democratic system is respect for minority rights. An essential requirement of this element is that the government should not interfere with the rights of a group of people, who see themselves as a minority, to organize their own private cultural, religious and educational affairs in the way they choose. The second aspect of minority rights is much harder. This is the question of political rights - the degree to which a minority should be allowed to organize a local area with some measure of political autonomy, and whether it should have guaranteed participation in the political process of the state.

   

   [10] free elections, legitimacy of political opposition, limits on arbitrary arrest, detention and punishment, and protection of minority rights. an essential element of that system is an independent judiciary with the right to enforce rules which protect the system. To make such a system work, there must exist, outside the formal constitutional structure, independent private organizations whose purpose it is to protect those rights.

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