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The present fascination with the global phenomenon of an unconstitutional constitutional amendment has left open the question whether a constitution can be unconstitutional. Invalidating a single amendment for violating the architectural core of a constitution is an extraordinary action, but it is occurring with increasing frequency around the world. But to call an entire constitution unconstitutional, however, seems different in both kind and degree. In this Article, I illustrate and evaluate four different conceptions of an unconstitutional constitution. Each conception draws from a different constitution currently in force around the world, specifically the Constitutions of Canada, Mexico, South Africa and the United States. What unites all four conceptions of an unconstitutional constitution is that each instantiation, despite its unconstitutionality in different senses of the concept, nonetheless traces its roots to democratic foundations. The strength of these foundations, however, varies as to each.


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6 Sep 2022
140 kB



  • Subject
    • Comparative and Foreign Law

    • Constitutional Law

  • Journal title
    • Cornell International Law Journal

  • Volume
    • 50

  • Issue
    • 2

  • Pagination
    • 169-198

  • Date submitted

    6 September 2022