Yet Another Constitutional Crisis?

Posted: 11 Jan 2002

See all articles by Keith E. Whittington

Keith E. Whittington

Princeton University - Department of Political Science


The recent presidential impeachment and post-election controversy led many to fear that the United States had either already entered or was about to enter a constitutional crisis. Such concerns seem overwrought. This paper will use those events as a foil for examining the nature of constitutional crises. The paper will distinguish two types of constitutional crises and consider several potential crises in American history, clarifying how crises occur and how they can be averted. Constitutional crises in the United States are rare in large part because of the robustness of informal constitutional practices, reasonably good constitutional design, and relatively limited political disagreement.

Keywords: Impeachment, Presidential Election, Bush v. Gore, Constitutional Crisis, Constitutional Theory, Separation of Powers

JEL Classification: K0, K3, K4

Suggested Citation

Whittington, Keith E., Yet Another Constitutional Crisis?. William and Mary Law Review, Vol. 43, No. 5, 2002. Available at SSRN:

Keith E. Whittington (Contact Author)

Princeton University - Department of Political Science ( email )

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Princeton, NJ 08544-1012
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