Open Access. Powered by Scholars. Published by Universities.®

Political Science Commons

Open Access. Powered by Scholars. Published by Universities.®

Articles 1 - 4 of 4

Full-Text Articles in Political Science

We The Peoples: The Global Origins Of Constitutional Preambles, Tom Ginsburg, Daniel Rockmore, Nick Foti Jan 2014

We The Peoples: The Global Origins Of Constitutional Preambles, Tom Ginsburg, Daniel Rockmore, Nick Foti

Tom Ginsburg

We like to think that constitutions are expressions of distinctly national values, speaking for “We the People.” This is especially true of constitutional preambles, which often recount distinct events from national history and speak to national values. This article challenges this popular view by demonstrating the global influences on constitutional preambles. It does so using a new set of tools in linguistic and textual analysis, applied to a database of most constitutional preambles written since 1789. Arguing that legal language can be analogized to memes or genetic material, we analyze “horizontal” transfer of language across countries and “vertical” transfers within ...


Getting To Rights: Treaty Ratification, Constitutional Convergence, And Human Rights Practice, Tom Ginsburg, Zachary Elkins, Beth Simmons Jan 2013

Getting To Rights: Treaty Ratification, Constitutional Convergence, And Human Rights Practice, Tom Ginsburg, Zachary Elkins, Beth Simmons

Tom Ginsburg

This Article examines the adoption of rights in national constitutions in the post-World War II period in light of claims of global convergence. Using a comprehensive database on the contents of the world’s constitutions, we observe a qualified convergence on the content of rights. Nearly every single right has increased in prevalence since its introduction, but very few are close to universal. We show that international rights documents, starting with the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, have shaped the rights menu of national constitutions in powerful ways. These covenants appear to coordinate the behavior of domestic drafters, whether or ...


On The Evasion Of Executive Term Limits, Tom Ginsburg Jan 2011

On The Evasion Of Executive Term Limits, Tom Ginsburg

Tom Ginsburg

Executive term limits are pre-commitments through which the polity restricts its ability to retain a popular executive down the road. But in recent years, many presidents around the world have chosen to remain in office even after their initial maximum term in office has expired. They have largely done so by amending the constitution, or sometimes by replacing it entirely. The practice of revising higher law for the sake of a particular incumbent raises intriguing issues that touch ultimately on the normative justification for term limits in the first place. This article reviews the normative debate over term limits and ...


Baghdad, Tokyo, Kabul . . . : Constitution-Making In Occupied States, Tom Ginsburg, Zachary Elkins, James Melton Jan 2008

Baghdad, Tokyo, Kabul . . . : Constitution-Making In Occupied States, Tom Ginsburg, Zachary Elkins, James Melton

Tom Ginsburg

We identify and document instances of “occupation constitutions,” those drafted under conditions of foreign military occupation. Not every occupation produces a constitution, and it appears that certain occupying powers have a greater propensity to encourage or force a constitution-writing process. We anticipate ex ante that occupation constitutions should be less enduring, and provide some supportive evidence to this effect. Some occupation constitutions do endure, however, and we conduct a case study of the Japanese Constitution of 1946. We argue that it had a self-enforcing quality that has allowed it to endure un-amended for over six decades. Unlike conventional understandings of ...