University of San Diego School of Law
CONTEMPORARY DEBATES IN POLITICAL PHILOSOPHY, Thomas Christiano, John Christman, eds., Forthcoming
San Diego Legal Studies Paper No. 07-04
In this encyclopedia entry I take up these questions: What are constitutions? What functions do they perform? And are they on balance desirable? My answer to the first question focuses on the relative entrenchment of constitutional norms relative to other legal norms and not primarily their position in the hierarchy of legal validity. My answer to the second question is that constitutions perform a variety of functions, from setting up governmental institutions and protecting various rights to guarding against various ways governmental decisionmakers can be corrupted or "misincentivized." With respect to the third question, I engage the arguments of super democrats and anti-constitutionalists such as Jeremy Waldron.
Number of Pages in PDF File: 38
Keywords: constitutions, entrenchment, hierarchy of legal validity, democracy, judicial review
JEL Classification: K10
Date posted: September 22, 2005