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

By John R. Vile | Go to book overview

Chapter 3
A Selective Look at Supreme Court Decisions and Their Impact on Change

While the difficulty of constitutional amendment has undoubtedly contributed to the stability of the written instrument, this difficulty has also created pressure to effect constitutional changes by other less onerous means consistent with the spirit, if not specified in the letter, of the Constitution. 1 Key among such means is the mechanism of judicial review. The beauty of judicial review is not simply that it can provide a means of giving authoritative interpretations of the Constitution but also that it can overcome the rigidity seemingly inherent in the unchanging words of the Constitutional text. If history be any guide on this matter, there is little that constitutional amendments can do that judicial review cannot do, if not better at least with the expenditure of less energy.

When compared to Figure 2.1, Figure 3.1 should suggest the parallels between judicial review and constitutional amendment:

Judicial Interpretations can: Figure 3.1 Judicial Interpretation and Change

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