Small-c Constitutional Rights

92 Pages Posted: 2 Dec 2019 Last revised: 19 Aug 2020

See all articles by Adam Chilton

Adam Chilton

University of Chicago - Law School

Mila Versteeg

University of Virginia School of Law

Date Written: July 30, 2019

Abstract

Although constitutions lay out the fundamental principles by which countries are governed, identifying exactly which legal materials are considered constitutional is not a straightforward task. This is for two reasons. First, there is no systematic evidence about the relative importance of countries’ formal, written constitutions—the “Large-C” constitution— versus their broader body of constitutional law derived from sources like judicial decisions, treaties, and conventions—the “small-c” constitution. Second, it is often difficult to establish which legal materials are definitively part of a country’s small-c constitution. We investigated the nature and relative importance of small-c constitutional rights protections by fielding a global expert survey to 220 experts from 123 countries. The results illustrate that although the Large-C constitution is the primary source of constitutional rights in a majority of countries, the small-c constitution also plays a significant role, especially in older constitutional systems. Perhaps surprisingly, whether a country has a civil law or a common law tradition is only weakly associated with the shape and form of the small-c constitution in most countries.

Keywords: Constitutional Law, Comparative Law, Constitutional Rights, Comparative Constitutional Law, Rights

JEL Classification: K00

Suggested Citation

Chilton, Adam and Versteeg, Mila, Small-c Constitutional Rights (July 30, 2019). Virginia Public Law and Legal Theory Research Paper No. 2019-67, University of Chicago Coase-Sandor Institute for Law & Economics Research Paper No. 894, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3490919

Adam Chilton (Contact Author)

University of Chicago - Law School ( email )

1111 E. 60th St.
Chicago, IL 60637
United States

HOME PAGE: http://www.adamchilton.org

Mila Versteeg

University of Virginia School of Law ( email )

580 Massie Road
Charlottesville, VA 22903
United States

Do you have negative results from your research you’d like to share?

Paper statistics

Downloads
472
Abstract Views
2,792
Rank
109,990
PlumX Metrics