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 8: Constitutional drafting in Latin America: a quantitative perspective

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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