Refined Comparativism in Constitutional Law
George Washington University Law School
UCLA Law Review, Vol. 49, p. 539, 2001
This Article considers the possible uses of comparative constitutional law in American constitutional interpretation. Surveying the debates about the uses of comparative constitutional law at the Founding, and tracing these debates to contemporary times by looking at the role of comparative constitutional law in the history of the U.S. Supreme Court, David Fontana suggests that a moderate, workable practice of using comparative constitutional law is consistent with the original intention of the Founders and has some precedent in the case law of the U.S. Supreme Court. This Article lays out a "refined comparativist" approach, whereby a court would consider comparative constitutional law only when faced with a "hard case," the comparative constitutional law can add something distinctive to American constitutional interpretation, and the contextual differences between the United States and the country the American court is considering borrowing from are slight. This Article then defends this refined comparativist model, paying particular attention to several strands of contemporary constitutional scholarship, before applying refined comparativism to address the constitutionality of hate speech.
Number of Pages in PDF File: 85Accepted Paper Series
Date posted: April 30, 2003
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