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Constitutional Amendment Rules: A Comparative Perspective


Rosalind Dixon


University of New South Wales (UNSW) - Faculty of Law

May 6, 2011

COMPARATIVE CONSTITUTIONAL LAW, Tom Ginsburg, ed., Edward Elgar, 2011
U of Chicago, Public Law Working Paper No. 347

Abstract:     
Constitutional amendment rules are now a near universal feature of national constitutions, yet their function remains largely under-theorized. This chapter thus uses a comparative perspective to explore a number of different functions, as well as dangers, to formal procedures for constitutional amendment. It notes, for example, the historical role played by constitutional amendment procedures in Canada, India, South Africa and Australia in: (i) formalizing, or legalizing, major constitutional revisions or changes; (ii) allowing a polity to ‘update’ of various specific constitutional structures or procedure; and (iii) allowing legislatures to engage in more effective forms of ‘dialogue’ with courts, by both jump-starting new judicial interpretations of a constitution and trumping existing judicial interpretations. It also explores the dangers of overly flexible amendment, from the perspective of the role of constitutions in promoting valuable forms of political (pre-) commitment, settlement, and minority rights protection. In addition, the chapter concludes by providing a concise summary, and critique, of the existing empirical literature on the actual determinants of the difficulty of constitutional amendment, both cross-nationally as well as within the US.

Number of Pages in PDF File: 20

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Date posted: May 9, 2011  

Suggested Citation

Dixon, Rosalind, Constitutional Amendment Rules: A Comparative Perspective (May 6, 2011). COMPARATIVE CONSTITUTIONAL LAW, Tom Ginsburg, ed., Edward Elgar, 2011; U of Chicago, Public Law Working Paper No. 347. Available at SSRN: http://ssrn.com/abstract=1833634 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.1833634

Contact Information

Rosalind Dixon (Contact Author)
University of New South Wales (UNSW) - Faculty of Law ( email )
Sydney, NSW 2052
Australia
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