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The Rise and Fall of Comparative Constitutional Law in the Postwar Era

53 Pages Posted: 1 Feb 2011  

David Fontana

George Washington University Law School

Date Written: January 31, 2011

Abstract

In the first few decades after World War II, comparative constitutional law rose to a prominent position in American law schools, only to disappear in many ways in the years after the Warren Court in part because of the Court’s decisions. During the years after World War II, Justices of the Supreme Court (from William Douglas to Felix Frankfurter to Earl Warren) and deans of major American law schools (like Harvard Law School Dean and later Nixon Solicitor General Erwin Griswold) traveled the country and the world encouraging everyone to examine the constitutional law of other countries. Law reviews featured many articles about comparative constitutional law, sometimes nearly as many as about decisions of the United States Supreme Court. With time, though, the attention devoted to the Warren Court and the Court’s decisions led to a substantial disappearance of comparative constitutional law from the American legal world. This Article discusses this previously undiscovered history of comparative constitutional law and the reasons for the substantial disappearance of this field for long periods of the history of American law schools. This lost history can also teach us much about constitutional law scholarship in the United States, because many of the major developments in constitutional scholarship had actually been tried elsewhere - yet these developments went mostly unnoticed in the United States. In order to prevent this situation from recurring, this Article suggests new reforms to American legal education.

Suggested Citation

Fontana, David, The Rise and Fall of Comparative Constitutional Law in the Postwar Era (January 31, 2011). Yale Journal of International Law, Vol. 36, p. 1, 2011. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1752522

David Fontana (Contact Author)

George Washington University Law School ( email )

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HOME PAGE: http://www.law.gwu.edu/Faculty/profile.aspx?id=9950

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