Blog of the International Journal of Constitutional Law

Category: United States

  • Pussy Riot: when “disproportionate” is inappropriate

    Shortly after a Moscow court sentenced the three female rock musicians from Pussy Riot to two years in a penal colony for ‘hooliganism,’ the United States Embassy in Russia sent off the following disapproving tweet: “Today’s verdict in the Pussy Riot case looks disproportionate.”

  • The Declining Influence of the United States Constitution

    Mila Versteeg and I have just posted to SSRN a paper that might be of interest to readers of this blog entitled “The Declining Influence of the United States Constitution“. It follows up on an earlier article, imminently forthcoming in the California Law Review, in which we took a very bird’s eye view of the evolution and ideology of global constitutionalism.

  • The Confederate States of America Constitution at 150

    This month marks the 150th anniversary of the signing of the Confederate Constitution into law. Following weeks of deliberation by forty-three delegates from seven states, the Confederacy formally ratified the document on March 11, 1861. Four more States, and two territories, would later join the Confederate States of America (CSA) and in doing so adopt this constitution for the war’s duration.

  • What would happen if the U.S. repealed the 14th amendment?

    So many constitutional issues came up in the context of the 2010 U.S. election that I’m just now summoning the energy to react to them. One issue was the provocative proposal by Senators Jon Kyl and Lindsay Graham (among others) to repeal the 14th amendment, or at least that part of the amendment that grants citizenship to all those born in the territory of the United States.

  • New Constitution for the US?

    The Revolutionary Communist Party has issued a new draft constitution for the Socialist Republic of North America. Only the preamble is available on the website; those interested in learning more will have to buy the book. The preamble itself, full of anachronistic language, is over 2700 words long, which would, according to a recent paper of mine on constitutional specificity, make it one of the longest preambles in the world if it were ever adopted.

  • Book review of Making Our Democracy Work

    Our colleague David Fontana of George Washington University has a book review of Justice Stephen Breyer’s new book here. An excerpt: “It is hard to understand Breyer’s approach to the Constitution without first considering the alternative that he is responding to, conventionally called originalism.

  • Competing Models of Democracy in Canada and the United States

    A few years ago, Michael Adams illuminated the many ways in which the United States and Canada are hardening in their views on civil society, culture, and politics. Entitled “Fire and Ice,” the book marshals an encyclopedic volume of data to show that Canada retains its own distinct identity—one that remains vibrant and strong despite being subject to omnipresent American influences.

  • How Representative is the Senate Minority Anyway?

    Last week’s Senate election in Massachusetts had many of us thinking about the merits and demerits of the filibuster. A basic question that sprang to mind, given the well-known malapportionment of the Senate, was this: what percent of Americans are represented by the 41 would-be filibusterers?

  • State Constitutionalism and the Comparative Project

    First, thanks to Zach Elkins and Tom Ginsburg, master scholars, impressarios of the great comparative constitutionalism project, and all-around good guys, for inviting me to guest blog on state constitutionalism and state con law. Second, by way of introduction, I am the Minerva House Drysdale Regents Chair in Law at the University of Texas, recently decamped from California, where I spent many happy years on the San Diego and Berkeley faculties.

  • Dignity, Death & the Depth of Comparative Engagement in the US

    Yesterday, the Supreme Court of Montana heard argument in Baxter v. State of Montana (Case No. DA 09-0051), an appeal by the state of Montana against a decision by a district court judge, Judge Dorothy McCarter, recognizing a right to physician assisted suicide under the Montana state constitution.