The Endurance of National Constitutions

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Cambridge University Press, Oct 19, 2009 - Law - 260 pages
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Constitutions are supposed to provide an enduring structure for politics. Yet only half live more than nineteen years. Why is it that some constitutions endure while others do not? In The Endurance of National Constitutions, Zachary Elkins, Tom Ginsburg, and James Melton examine the causes of constitutional endurance from an institutional perspective. Supported by an original set of cross-national historical data, theirs is the first comprehensive study of constitutional mortality. They show that whereas constitutions are imperiled by social and political crises, certain aspects of a constitution's design can lower the risk of death substantially. Thus, to the extent that endurance is desirable - a question that the authors also subject to scrutiny - the decisions of founders take on added importance.
 

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Contents

How Long Should Constitutions Endure?
12
Conceptualizing Constitutions
36
What Makes Constitutions Endure?
65
Identifying Risks to Constitutional Life
93
An Epidemiological Analysis of Constitutional Mortality
122
Similar Contexts
147
Contrasting
179
Appendix
215
References
231
Index
247
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About the author (2009)

Zachary Elkins is Assistant Professor in the Department of Government at the University of Texas at Austin. Professor Elkins writes on issues of democracy, institutional reform, and research methodology. Much of his current research is focused on the origins and consequences of constitutional design. He also co-directs the project constitutionmaking.org, which is intended to provide constitutional drafters with usable insights from academic research on constitutional design. He received a Ph.D. from the University of California, Berkeley and a B.A. from Yale University.

Tom Ginsburg is Professor at the University of Chicago Law School. His books include Rule by Law: The Politics of Courts in Authoritarian Regimes (2008) and Judicial Review in New Democracies (2003), which won the American Political Science Association's C. Herman Pritchett Award for best book on law and courts. Professor Ginsburg has previously worked for The Asia Foundation, consulted on law and democratic governance programs, and served as a legal advisor at the Iran-U.S. Claims Tribunal in The Hague.

James Melton is a graduate student in political science at the University of Illinois. His research focuses broadly on comparative democratization, and he is currently working on projects related to constitutional design, voter turnout, and measuring democracy.

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