The World's Most Difficult Constitution to Amend?
Posted: 12 Jan 2023
Date Written: 2022
America’s frozen constitution could well be the world’s most difficult to amend. Far from being a badge of honor, the distinction of topping the global charts on constitutional rigidity is cause for alarm. Ancient and virtually impervious to amendment, the United States Constitution has withstood all modern efforts to renovate its outdated architecture on elections, federalism, rights, and beyond. In the last half-century alone, democratic reformers have proposed thousands of amendments to make the Constitution more equal, more inclusive, and more just. But each proposal has failed, few ever making it beyond the point of initiation. The current dynamics of American constitutional politics suggest no reason to expect anything different in the near- to mid-term. What does this mean for the future of democracy in the United States? In this Essay, I examine the sources of amendment difficulty in the United States and I explain why all proposals to amend the Constitution are for now doomed to failure. I close by tracing an alternative path proposed in the founding era that could have saved the Constitution from its present state of unamendability.
Keywords: United States Constitution, Constitutional Amendment, Constructive Unamendability, Democratic Reform, Constitutional Reform, Comparative Amendment Difficulty, Thomas Jefferson
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