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 9: The global diffusion of U.S. legal thought: changing influence, national security and legal education in crisis

Fernanda Nicola


This chapter questions those who affirm that the influence of U.S. legal thought is currently in decline. For Nicola, the diffusion of legal ideas that originate in the United States remains the rule, although the content exported and the procedures for doing so have changed. This transformation of the forms and content of U.S. legal ideas spread around the world can be seen on three intersecting axes: first, rights-centered U.S. constitutionalism has given way to the exportation of legal products related to national security law. The latter consists of a set of theories and practices that justify and indicate the means for adequate development of timely military interventions, actions against terrorism, and war between nations. Second, legal education focused on training critical students, social justice, and full-time professors is being questioned in the United States by those who, after the crisis experienced by law schools, think that legal education should aim to train attorneys to pass the Bar exam, advance transactions that are useful for local businesses, and be taught by part-time professors. Finally, the exportation by U.S.-educated foreign legal elites of the most conservative interpretations of the educational model dominant in the United States. Nicola concludes, then, that the influence of U.S. legal ideas remains as notable around the world as it was in the twentieth century.

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