The Inevitable Globalization of Constitutional Law

Hague Institute for the Internationalization of Law

Harvard Public Law Working Paper No. 09-06

23 Pages Posted: 18 Dec 2008 Last revised: 18 Jan 2009

Date Written: December 18, 2008


This Essay examines the forces pushing the presently varying forms of domestic constitutional law toward each other, and the sources of and forms of resistance to that globalization (or convergence, or harmonization). After a brief introduction sketching claims for the existence of a "post-war paradigm" of domestic constitutional law and competing claims about national exceptionalism, the Essay sketches the "top down" pressures for convergence - judicial networks and actions by transnational institutions, including transnational courts, international financial institutions, and transnational NGOs. It then turns to "bottom up" pressures, from domestic interests supporting local investments by foreign investment and high-level human capital and from lawyers engaged in transnational practice. A discussion of counterpressures from the supply side follows. These counterpressures include resistance from local interests, including authoritarian or semi-authoritarian political elites, and subtle but perhaps deliberate misunderstandings that can arise when superficially similar legal arrangements take on distinctive local meanings. The Essay discusses whether the mechanisms it identifies lead to a race to the "top," to the "bottom," or to some more variegated location. It concludes with a brief treatment of how the globalization of domestic constitutional law can be accommodated to local notions of separation of powers.

Keywords: Globalization, constitutional law

Suggested Citation

Tushnet, Mark V., The Inevitable Globalization of Constitutional Law (December 18, 2008). Hague Institute for the Internationalization of Law, Harvard Public Law Working Paper No. 09-06, Available at SSRN: or

Mark V. Tushnet (Contact Author)

Harvard Law School ( email )

1575 Massachusetts
Hauser 406
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States

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