The Case for Presidential Illegality in Constitutional Amendment

20 Pages Posted: 17 May 2019 Last revised: 4 Jan 2022

See all articles by Richard Albert

Richard Albert

University of Texas at Austin - School of Law; University of Texas at Austin - Department of Government; Universidad de Especialidades Espíritu Santo; Université Paris II - Panthéon-Assas; Universidad Externado de Colombia - Facultad de Derecho; São Paulo Law School of Fundação Getulio Vargas FGV DIREITO SP; Reichman University - Interdisciplinary Center (IDC) Herzliyah - Harry Radziner School of Law; University of Toronto - Faculty of Law; University of Ottawa - Faculty of Law; Airlangga University; Yale University; Maharashtra National Law University Mumbai

Date Written: May 2, 2019

Abstract

The current amendment stasis in the United States raises a serious question with potentially grave consequences for the American project of constitutional democracy: has the Constitution seen its last amendment? The answer is quite likely yes — if the extraordinary level of political disagreement in the country remains as high as it is now. But this affirmative answer presupposes that reformers will continue to consider themselves bound by the codified rules in Article V. What if instead reformers come to believe the political climate makes it necessary to pursue unconventional methods to break through the barriers standing in the way of a constitutional amendment? Freed from their strict fidelity to the rigid rules in Article V, reformers might ultimately innovate a new path to formal constitutional change. This strategy would of course invite the powerful claim that reformers were acting illegally. But could their breach of Article V be simultaneously illegal yet legitimate? In this invited contribution for a symposium held at Drake Law School on the topic “Is it Time to Amend the Constitution?,” I suggest the answer is yes, provided reformers justify their violation of Article V as both a return to the popular sovereigntist beginnings of modern American constitutional democracy and an essential step to ensure the Constitution remains responsive to the needs of the country and reflective of the people’s values.

Keywords: Constitutional Amendment, United States Constitution, Articles of Confederation, Article V, Formal Amendment, Constitutional Design, Amendment Procedure, French Constitution, Charles de Gaulle, Philadelphia Convention, Referendum

Suggested Citation

Albert, Richard, The Case for Presidential Illegality in Constitutional Amendment (May 2, 2019). 67 Drake Law Review 857 (2019), U of Texas Law, Public Law Research Paper 705, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3381947

Richard Albert (Contact Author)

University of Texas at Austin - School of Law ( email )

727 East Dean Keeton Street
Austin, TX 78705
United States
512.213.1113 (Phone)

HOME PAGE: http://law.utexas.edu/faculty/richard-albert

University of Texas at Austin - Department of Government ( email )

College of Liberal Arts
1 University Station A1800
Austin, TX 78712
United States

Universidad de Especialidades Espíritu Santo ( email )

Facultad de Derecho
Av. Samborondón 5
Samborondón, 092301
Ecuador

HOME PAGE: http://uees.edu.ec/postgrado/postgrado-derecho

Université Paris II - Panthéon-Assas ( email )

12 place du Pantheon
Paris cedex 06, 75231
France

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://www.uexternado.edu.co/derecho

São Paulo Law School of Fundação Getulio Vargas FGV DIREITO SP

R. Rocha, 233, Bela Vista
São Paulo, 01330-000
Brazil

HOME PAGE: http://direitosp.fgv.br

Reichman University - Interdisciplinary Center (IDC) Herzliyah - Harry Radziner School of Law ( email )

P.O. Box 167
Herzliya, 46150
Israel

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

University of Toronto - Faculty of Law ( email )

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Toronto, Ontario M5S 2C5
Canada

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

University of Ottawa - Faculty of Law ( email )

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Ottawa, Ontario K1N 6N5
Canada

HOME PAGE: http://commonlaw.uottawa.ca

Airlangga University

Dharmawangsa Dalam Selatan
Surabaya, East Java 60286
Indonesia

HOME PAGE: http://www.unair.ac.id

Yale University

493 College St
New Haven, CT CT 06520
United States

Maharashtra National Law University Mumbai ( email )

2nd Floor, CETTM MTNL Building, Technology Street
Hiranandani Gardens, Powai, Mumbai 400076
Maharashtra
India

HOME PAGE: http://mnlumumbai.edu.in/vaf.php

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