What is the Kelsen Pyramid of Law – Hierarchy of Norms

We explain what the Kelsen Pyramid is in the legal system, its levels, and control mechanisms. Also, what does it represent in Mexico? what is the Pyramid of Kelsen?

What is the Pyramid of Kelsen?

The Pyramid of Kelsen, the Pyramid Kelseniana, or the Pyramid of the legal hierarchy is the graphic representation of the legal system by means of a pyramid segmented into various strata or levels. It represents a vertical relationship between the different legal norms, as understood by the Austrian jurist and philosopher Hans Kelsen (1881-1973), from the positivist doctrine.

This normative pyramid arises from the idea that every legal norm obtains its value from a superior norm in the hierarchy, according to three different hierarchical levels in which Kelsen divided its pyramid: what is the Pyramid of Kelsen

  • The fundamental level, at the tip of the pyramid, where the Magna Carta, the National Constitution, or the basic legal text from which emanates all other laws and provisions. It is the key text on which no legal institution has a hierarchy.
  • The legal level is located in an intermediate step and can be divided into many sub-rungs, along which the set of laws that make life within the constitutional legal framework will be ordered according to hierarchy, from the most (above) to the least fundamental (down).
  • The base level, at the end of the pyramid, is the widest, as it contains the judgments of the legal bodies, which are much more abundant compared to the previous rungs, at the same time as less fundamental. what is the Pyramid of Kelsen

This hierarchical order is sustained, according to Kelsen, due to two different forms of control mechanisms, which are:

  • By way of exception, those decisions of ordinary courts in which a judge dictates the application of some norm and its relationship with the rest of the pyramid, sometimes having the precedent of customary justice.
  • By way of action, when the specialized bodies (such as the Supreme Court) declare some unconstitutional norm and therefore prevents it from being part of the legal system, losing its full entry into force. what is the Pyramid of Kelsen?

Pyramid of Kelsensin Mexico

In the Mexican case, the Kelsen Pyramid is made up of four hierarchical levels, which are:

The Political Constitution of the United Mexican States. Located on the top of the Kelsen Pyramid of the country, is the Magna Carta, as in most modern democratic Republican States. It consists of three fundamental parts: the preamble, the dogmatic part, and the organic part. Next to it are the International Human Rights Treaties that the nation has signed.

Federal laws. The second step of the Pyramid is occupied by all federal laws since it is a federal nation. These laws are in charge of governing the whole of the different Mexican states, they apply to the entire nation as a whole and it is composed, in turn, of the following sub-districts: what is the Pyramid of Kelsen

  • Formal laws, that is, State Constitutions, State Laws, Organic Laws, and Official Norms.
  • International Treaties not related to human rights, such as trade agreements, politicians, diplomats, etc.

The local laws. This set of laws describes the faculties of municipalities, purely local and minority in comparison with the upper steps of the pyramid. These are the “ordinary” laws, of lower rank, but which govern the rules and regulations of the last step. what is the Pyramid of Kelsen?

The basic rules and regulations. In this last step, the broadest and the one that serves as a base for the pyramid, are the regulations, of a legislative nature, as well as the Individualized Legal Rules, which are concrete legal actions, such as contracts or wills, and that never they can contravene the upper steps of the pyramid.

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