Blog of the International Journal of Constitutional Law

Announcement–New Book: “Constitutional Amendments: Making, Breaking, and Changing Constitutions” (OUP 2019)

Richard Albert, William Stamps Farish Professor in Law and Professor of Government, The University of Texas at Austin

Last month, Oxford University Press (OUP) published my book on “Constitutional Amendments: Making, Breaking, and Changing Constitutions.” It is available from OUP here at a 30% discount with this promotion code: ALAUTHC4.

Here is a short description of the book:

Constitutional Amendments: Making, Breaking, and Changing Constitutions is both a roadmap for navigating the intellectual universe of constitutional amendments and a blueprint for building and improving the rules of constitutional change. Drawing from dozens of constitutions in every region of the world, this book blends theory with practice to answer two all-important questions: what is an amendment and how should constitutional designers structure the procedures of constitutional change? The first matters now more than ever. Reformers are exploiting the rules of constitutional amendment, testing the limits of legal constraint, undermining the norms of democratic government, and flouting the constitution as written to create entirely new constitutions that masquerade as ordinary amendments. The second question is central to the performance and endurance of constitutions. Constitutional designers today have virtually no resources to guide them in constructing the rules of amendment, and scholars do not have a clear portrait of the significance of amendment rules in the project of constitutionalism. This book shows that no part of a constitution is more important than the procedures we use change it. Amendment rules open a window into the soul of a constitution, exposing its deepest vulnerabilities and revealing its greatest strengths. The codification of amendment rules often at the end of the text proves that last is not always least.

And here are early reviews from Bruce Ackerman (Yale), Tom Ginsburg (Chicago), Ran Hirschl (Toronto), Vicki Jackson (Harvard) and Mark Tushnet (Harvard):

“This book provides essential insights into the current crisis of liberal democracy. Richard Albert not only explores how rising autocrats throughout the world have manipulated amendment rules to destroy the fundamental freedoms their constitutions aim to protect. He also advances insightful reforms that would make it far harder for liberal democracies to self-destruct in the future.”—Bruce Ackerman, Sterling Professor of Law and Political Science, Yale University

“Provisions on amendment are arguably the most important rules in any constitution, for they condition the operation of all the others. Richard Albert tackles the topic with considerable creativity and insight, and his framework is sure to become the touchstone reference on the topic for decades to come. Magnificent.”—Tom Ginsburg, Leo Spitz Professor of International Law and Professor of Political Science, University of Chicago

“A masterly comparative account of constitutional amendments in theory and practice. At the same time a status quaestionis and an agenda-setter for new investigation, Richard Albert’s Constitutional Amendments is destined to become a common reference in any serious discussion of constitutional design and constitutional change more generally.”—Ran Hirschl, Professor of Political Science and Law, University of Toronto; Co-President 2015-2018, International Society of Public Law

“This erudite book is provocative and thought-provoking, reflecting the author’s broad and deep knowledge about constitutions’ amending provisions and practices around the world. It is a work not to be missed by those interested in new scholarly thinking about how constitutions change over time.”—Vicki Jackson, Thurgood Marshall Professor of Constitutional Law, Harvard University

“In this conceptually and geographically wide-ranging work, Richard Albert demonstrates why the topic of constitutional amendment has become central in the contemporary study of comparative constitutional law. This exceptionally important book should give scholars in the field ideas that they must incorporate into their work, whatever their specific concerns are.”—Mark Tushnet, William Nelson Cromwell Professor of Law, Harvard University


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