Constitutional Change in the United States: A Comparative Study of the Role of Constitutional Amendments, Judicial Interpretations, and Legislative and Executive Actions

Constitutional Change in the United States: A Comparative Study of the Role of Constitutional Amendments, Judicial Interpretations, and Legislative and Executive Actions

Constitutional Change in the United States: A Comparative Study of the Role of Constitutional Amendments, Judicial Interpretations, and Legislative and Executive Actions

Constitutional Change in the United States: A Comparative Study of the Role of Constitutional Amendments, Judicial Interpretations, and Legislative and Executive Actions

Synopsis

The processes of constitutional change in America are particularly difficult to understand because of the constant interaction between the constitutional document of 1787 and the wider set of understandings and practices surrounding that document. This work is the first to examine systematically the relationship between changes initiated by constitutional amendment and changes initiated by judicial interpretations or actions of the two elected branches of government. By examining and comparing all three mechanisms of constitutional revision, Vile offers a more complex and dynamic analysis of this important constitutional issue than can be found elsewhere in the literature.

Excerpt

Although I have now been writing and thinking about the constitutional amending process for fifteen years, probably no one would have been more surprised than me if someone were to have told me when I began my research that I would now be writing my sixth book related to the subject. The writer of Ecclesiastes 12:12 (AV) said that "of making many books there is no end," and my own explorations seem to confirm his observations, but, whatever overlaps there may be, I think that readers will see that each of my books, including this one, has explored a new facet of constitutional change.

I am particularly fascinated by the specific subject of this book because it appeals to two of my scholarly interests. As a researcher, I have devoted most of my attention to the formal constitutional amending process, but as a teacher I have now been instructing classes in American government and American constitutional law for more than sixteen years. It is fitting, then, that I am particularly fascinated by the interaction of these two processes, which, along with changes initiated by the legislative and executive branches, are the central focus of this book.

It has been my experience that however much progress can be made dealing with changes initiated through the amending process, ultimately all such studies begin and end with the observation that not all alterations have been initiated through this formal process. Similarly, there is growing recognition within the discipline of constitutional law itself that a complete account of American constitutional development requires attention to legislative and executive actions as well as to judicial decisions. While . . .

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