Constitutionalism in the Americas
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Constitutionalism in the Americas

Edited by Colin Crawford and Daniel Bonilla Maldonado

Constitutionalism in the Americas unites the work of leading scholars of constitutional law, comparative law and Latin American and U.S. constitutional law to provide a critical and provocative look at the state of constitutional law across the Americas today. The diverse chapters employ a variety of methodologies – empirical, historical, philosophical and textual analysis – in the effort to provide a comprehensive look at a generation of constitutional change across two continents.
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Chapter 4: Constitutionalism in the Americas: a comparison between the U.S. and Latin America

Roberto Gargarella


This chapter examines the similarities and differences between U.S. and Latin American constitutional law. Gargarella indicates that, although U.S. constitutionalism has influenced Latin American constitutionalism in some circumstances, these two traditions constitute somewhat different ways of understanding constitutional law. Gargarella argues that Latin American constitutionalism has departed from U.S. constitutionalism on three significant points: it has incorporated a much broader list of rights than the U.S. Bill of Rights (which he says has the effect of allowing more substantive protection of egalitarian principles), it has favored hyper-presidential systems, and it has centralized territorial organization and the exercise of state political and legal power. Gargarella also states that these differences make the Latin American constitutional model more conservative and less consistent with respect to the exercise of power but more progressive on social, economic and cultural matters than the U.S. constitutional model.

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