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The U.S. Constitution: A Global Perspective THE U.S. CONSTITUTION: A GLOBAL PERSPECTIVE The United s constitution has acted as a respected model around the world, especially regarding governance, for two centuries. A study by University of Virginia and Washington University scholars in 2012 reported that 160 out of 170 constitutions around the globe, as of 1987, were based partially on the United States constitution. However, this is not the case twenty-five years later. An examination of 729 federal constitutions collected from 188 countries as from 1946 to 2006 was also done by New York University, looking for any resemblances to the United States constitution. The documents were assessed with the basis on two hundred and thirty seven variables, with the main focus on human rights. The results showed that references to the US constitution were dropping in the drafting of constitutions globally. This paper aims to discuss the reasons for this decline in influence, as well as why Americans should be worried about it.
In comparison to a generic bill of rights collated from sixty human rights in over 70% of constitutions globally up to 2006, the constitution of the US guarantees relatively few rights (Amar & Tushnet, 2009). The US constitution contains less than a half of the generic rights bill, for example, health care or women’s rights. In contrast, the US constitution is rooted in a tradition of constitutional libertarianism inherently antithetical to any notion of positive rights. Freedoms of the press and self-expression, a guarantee of equality, the right to privacy and the right to private property can be found in approximately 97% of all constitutions (Amar & Tushnet, 2009). In 10% or less of these constitutions, present rights included rights for the right to bear arms, the legal protection of fetuses and the victims of cruelty. The other constitutions, which feature the right to bear arms, are those of Mexico and Guatemala.
The 1990s, during which the cold war ended, saw a period of constitution making in Eastern Europe, Asia, and Africa, and with victory in the cold war, it might have been expected to see America’s constitution influence the writing of these constitutions. However, this was not so, with a noticeable decline in relative similarity to the constitution of the United States (Amar & Tushnet, 2009).
While the average constitution possesses a 38% chance of revision in any year, with replacement every nineteen years, the constitution of the US has only been amended once in the last forty years, having survived for two centuries (Fletcher & Sheppard, 2009). In many respects, therefore, the constitution is antiquated and dysfunctional. This analysis is suggestive of the fact that the United States constitution in many ways departs from the global mainstream, while also strongly hinting that it is not widely emulated anymore. In fact, the Canadian constitution is a leading model internationally compared to that of the United States.
Rather than being a leader in global constitutionalism, the United States constitution is losing appeal as a model for drafters (Fletcher & Sheppard, 2009). While the idea of constitutional adoption might trace inspiration to the US, the manner of writing quite clearly does not. Americans should not disregard these perspectives and findings. The American people will only see the need for amendments to improve democracy only if they pay attention this trend. The American constitution is, however, very hard to amend compared to other constitutions in the world. Around the country, diverse groups and people from the right and the left are agitating for reform to, for example, create term limits in Congress, get private money away from politics, imposing balanced budget requirements for congress, and removing corporate personhood. Americans should realize the need to update and reform its constitution to avoid additional political interpretations by the Supreme Court, with continued federal erosion of personal freedoms.
References
Amar, Vikram. & Tushnet, Mark. (2009). Global perspectives on constitutional law. New York : Oxford University Press.
Fletcher, George. & Sheppard, Steve. (2009). American law in a global context : the basics. Oxford : Oxford Univ. Press. Read More
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