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American Exceptionalism in Constitutional Amendment

36 Pages Posted: 14 Feb 2016 Last revised: 23 Nov 2016

Richard Albert

Boston College - Law School; Yale University - Law School; Universidad Externado de Colombia - Facultad de Derecho; University of Toronto - Faculty of Law; Interdisciplinary Center (IDC) Herzliyah - Radzyner School of Law

Date Written: February 13, 2016

Abstract

The American traditions of constitutional amendment raise contrasts and continuities with constitutional amendment in much of the rest of the democratic world. On the one hand, the United States Constitution stands apart from many foreign democratic constitutions for its extraordinary formal amendment difficulty, for not entrenching any current form of formal unamendability, and for resisting the global trend toward the doctrine of unconstitutional constitutional amendment. On the other hand, state constitutions in the United States more closely resemble the world’s democratic constitutions: they are freely susceptible to formal amendment, they entrench current forms of formal unamendability, and they recognize the doctrine of unconstitutional constitutional amendment. Constitutional amendment in the United States is therefore peculiar in entrenching both departures from and convergences with constitutional amendment in the larger democratic world. In this Article prepared for a symposium on “State Constitutional Change,” I explore how American state constitutions differ from the United States Constitution yet resemble the world’s other democratic constitutions in how they structure constitutional amendment. I conclude with thoughts on the organizing logic of constitutional amendment under the United States Constitution.

Keywords: Constitutional Amendment, Constitutional Change, United States Constitution, U.S. State Constitutions, Revision, Unamendable Constitutional Provision, Formal Unamendability, Informal Unamendability, Unconstitutional Constitutional Amendment, Popular Sovereignty

Suggested Citation

Albert, Richard, American Exceptionalism in Constitutional Amendment (February 13, 2016). 69 Arkansas Law Review 217 (2016) (Symposium); Boston College Law School Legal Studies Research Paper No. 389. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2731890

Richard Albert (Contact Author)

Boston College - Law School ( email )

885 Centre Street
Boston, MA 02459-1163
United States
617.552.3930 (Phone)

HOME PAGE: http://www.richardalbert.com

Yale University - Law School ( email )

127 Wall Street
New Haven, CT 06520-8215
United States

HOME PAGE: http://www.law.yale.edu

Universidad Externado de Colombia - Facultad de Derecho

Calle 12 # 1-17 este
Calle 12 0 83
Bogota D.C, Cundinamarca 3456
Colombia

HOME PAGE: http://190.7.110.123/irj/portal/anonymous/fac_derecho

University of Toronto - Faculty of Law ( email )

78 and 84 Queen's Park
Toronto, Ontario M5S 2C5
Canada

HOME PAGE: http://www.law.utoronto.ca

Interdisciplinary Center (IDC) Herzliyah - Radzyner School of Law ( email )

P.O. Box 167
Herzliya, 46150
Israel

HOME PAGE: http://https://www.idc.ac.il/en/schools/law/pages/home.aspx

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