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David S. Law and Tom Ginsburg

This chapter provides a quantitative, comparative analysis of Latin American constitutionalism over the last sixty years, aiming to examine the following three recurring legal and political concerns: the enormous influence of U.S. constitutional law, the excessive control of power by the executive branch, and the high level of human rights violations. This analysis focuses on the content of the constitutional texts taken from the quantitative data of “big n” or big data, and it seeks to question the stereotypes of and preconceptions about the creation of constitutional norms in the region. With respect to the first issue, Law and Ginsburg argue that Latin American constitutions have increasingly moved away from both the U.S. model and models from other regions of the world, such as Europe and Asia. With respect to the second issue, they argue that over time Latin American constitutions have decreased the formal powers granted to the executive branch and have been generous in the recognition and application of human rights. Finally, Law and Ginsburg argue that over the last two decades the distance between the rules recognizing human rights in Latin American constitutions and the social reality has become shorter. For these two authors, the differences between the constitutional promises and the daily life of common people in Latin America have decreased over the last twenty years.

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Wen-Chen Chang and David S. Law

Abstract: Despite the resurgence of comparative constitutional law, there is little English-language literature that takes an explicitly comparative perspective on China’s Constitution or uses China as a comparator. This is because the study of comparative constitutional law usually focuses on a handful of high-prestige democracies or on the decisional output of courts engaged in judicial review, a feature absent in China. While China has in practice repudiated constitutionalism, we argue that it is a mistake to define the core concepts of constitution and constitutionalism in a manner that excludes China. Having summarized the state of Chinese constitutional law, highlighted options for defining constitutionalism, and explored the values in taking China seriously as an object of study, we conclude by nominating an additional function, that of constructive irritant, in the study of Chinese constitutionalism as generating a dialectical and critical discourse in the study of comparative constitutional law particularly for authoritarian regimes.