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The Paradox of ConstitutionalismConstituent Power and Constitutional Form$
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Martin Loughlin and Neil Walker

Print publication date: 2008

Print ISBN-13: 9780199552207

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: January 2009

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199552207.001.0001

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Constituent Power and Constitutional Change in American Constitutionalism

Constituent Power and Constitutional Change in American Constitutionalism

(p.49) 3 Constituent Power and Constitutional Change in American Constitutionalism
The Paradox of Constitutionalism

Stephen M. Griffin

Oxford University Press

The claims of the 17th century English radicals were bequeathed to their American compatriots during the following century, and this chapter shows that it enabled the American revolutionaries to utilize the device of a constitutional convention as the authoritative voice of the people and to establish the world's first modern constitution. It considers what became of ‘the people’ once the American constitution had been established, and suggests that their influence has been felt not only through the process of formal amendment and judicial interpretation, but also informally through politics, sometimes crystallized as ‘constitutional moments’ but often on-going and incremental. The chapter concludes that while many would view constituent power as dangerous to the integrity of constitutional forms, few would deny its continuing influence in shaping American constitutionalism.

Keywords:   American revolution, American constitutionalism, the people, constitutional amendment, constitutional moments

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