Amending constitutional amendment rules

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Author: Richard Albert

DOI: 10.21128/1812-7126-2016-2-64-95

Keywords: amendments to the constitution; constitution; differences between amendment and revision of the constitution; protection of the rules for the amendments; written and unwritten limits to formally amending formal amendment rules


No part of a constitution is more important than the rules that govern its amendment. Given the important functions served by formal constitutional amendment rules, we might expect constitutional designers to entrench them against ordinary amendment, for instance by requiring a higher-than-usual quantum of agreement for their amendment or by making them altogether unamendable. Yet relatively few constitutional democracies set a higher threshold for formally amending formal amendment rules. In this article, I demonstrate that existing written and unwritten limits to formally amending formal amendment rules are unsatisfactory, and I offer modest textual entrenchment strategies to insulate formal amendment rules against ordinary formal amendment in constitutional democracies where the constitutional text exerts an appreciable constraint on political actors. I draw from historical, theoretical and comparative perspectives to suggest that two principles – intertemporality and relativity – should guide constitutional designers in designing formal amendment rules in constitutional democracies.

About the author: Richard Albert – associate Professor, Boston College Law School; Yale University (J.D., B.A.); Oxford University (B.C.L.); Harvard University (LL.M.).

Citation: Albert A. (2016) Kak vnosit' izmeneniya v pravila vneseniya konstitutsionnykh popravok [Amending constitutional amendment rules]. Sravnitel'noe konstitutsionnoe obozrenie, no.2, pp.64–95.


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