Comment on Amendment-Metrics: The Good, the Bad and the Frequently Amended Constitution

19 Pages Posted: 1 Nov 2015

See all articles by James E. Fleming

James E. Fleming

Boston University - School of Law

Date Written: July 2015

Abstract

This comment assesses Xenophon Contiades and Alkmene Fotiadou’s critique of arguments that long, frequently amended constitutions tend to be bad constitutions. It also criticizes their analysis of the purposes of amendment, arguing that most amendments, in some way, aim to respond to imperfections or correct flaws in existing constitutions. Furthermore (drawing on the analysis of John Marshall), the comment sketches some general criteria for a good constitution: that it should be a “great outline,” not a detailed legal code; that it should be difficult to amend; and that it should not be amended frequently. Finally (building on the analysis of Jack Balkin), it maintains that a good constitution would be capable of serving as “basic law,” “higher law,” and “our law.”

Keywords: Criteria for a good constitution, criteria for a bad constitution, frequency of amendment, difficulty of amendment, purposes of amendment

JEL Classification: K19, K39

Suggested Citation

Fleming, James E., Comment on Amendment-Metrics: The Good, the Bad and the Frequently Amended Constitution (July 2015). Boston Univ. School of Law, Public Law Research Paper No. 15-44, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2683458

James E. Fleming (Contact Author)

Boston University - School of Law ( email )

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HOME PAGE: http://www.bu.edu/law/faculty/profiles/bios/full-time/fleming_j.html

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