The South African Constitution as a Role Model for the United States

9 Pages Posted: 15 Feb 2011

See all articles by Adrien K. Wing

Adrien K. Wing

University of Iowa - College of Law

Date Written: January 24, 2011


This article emphasizes the opportunity Americans have for considering whether the United States can push for constitutional amendments or statutory reform based upon lessons learned from South Africa. Adrien Wing was an adviser for several years to the African National Congress Constitutional Committee during the time period leading up to the adoption of the first democratic South African constitution. The 1996 permanent South African Constitution has provided equality on a much more sophisticated basis than the U.S. Constitution, overcoming a legacy of very recent de jure discrimination similar to, but also different from, the discrimination prevalent in the U.S. context.

In this article Adrien Wing advocates for the U.S. to consider passing an amendment reinventing the U.S. Constitution equality clause along the lines of the South African equality clause. She also advocates, on a smaller scale, reestablishing a national dialogue on the defeated Equal Rights Amendment could successfully add gender into the U.S. Constitution. Additionally or in lieu of this approach, if the political process rejects it, this article calls for an intersectional approach to race and other identities in U.S. statutory law along the lines of South Africa

Keywords: South African Constitution, Gender, Dialogue, Overcoming Discrimination, South Africa, Lessons Learned, U.S. Fourteenth Amendment, Reform, Critical Race Femenism, LGBT, Lesbian, Gay Constitutional Rights

JEL Classification: K10, K49, K30, K39

Suggested Citation

Wing, Adrien Katherine, The South African Constitution as a Role Model for the United States (January 24, 2011). Harvard BlackLetter Law Journal, Vol. 24, p. 73, 2008, U Iowa Legal Studies Research Paper No. 11-09 , Available at SSRN:

Adrien Katherine Wing (Contact Author)

University of Iowa - College of Law ( email )

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