Anderson Lecture by Edwin Cameron, Justice of the South African Constitutional Court.
The South African Constitution is the
centrepiece attainment of the negotiations that brought formal apartheid
to an end 20 years ago. It emerged from a long struggle for justice and
dignity within the
legal system that persisted even in the darkest hours of racial
oppression, and committed South Africans to a process of profound legal
transformation. The most radical innovation of the new era was
constitutional supremacy. At the end of two decades, the
Constitutional Court has established its authority as the key
institution in securing the legitimacy of the Constitution and the
continuing power of its values. The Court has used its appellate power
over a wide field to secure practical impact for constitutional
values. Three intense instances illustrate this with particular
vividness - social and economic rights; sexual orientation and gender
identity; and access to anti-retroviral treatment. These instances show
how the Constitution seeks to confer moral citizenship,
a person’s sense that he or she is a fully entitled member of society.
Much of the Court’s achievement since 1994 has consisted in the process
of asserting the moral citizenship of our country’s people. This has
been especially significant in a society that,
under apartheid, was defined by exclusion, division, subordination,
condemnation and stigma.