Tom Ginsburg, “The Influence of the U.S. Constitution on Other Countries”
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Tom Ginsburg, “The Influence of the U.S. Constitution on Other Countries”

October 8, 2019


[MUSIC PLAYING] The United States is the very
first written constitution, or it is conventionally
understood as being the first national
written constitution, the Articles of
Confederation in 1781, and then of course the
Constitution in 1789. And these were
inspirational, it was sort of the hallmark of
liberalism and republican thought. And so new nation
builders around the world, when they had their revolutions
would looked to the United States for inspiration. And one of the things
that they borrowed was the idea of a
written constitution. So you see a very rapid
spread of the idea of written constitutions over time. If one looks at the similarity
of constitutional documents, comparing similarity
of two documents, one sees a marked decline
away from the US model. So as constitutions
that were written in the early 19th century look
very similar to the United States, along a whole
array of provisions, the modern constitutions written
in the last couple of decades don’t really, not
very much at all. System of government
is different the quite, type of rights, the
nature of the rights that are in there are
different, and just the nature of the drafting. In designing
government, drafters would take many provisions
from the American Constitution. Things which haven’t been very
important in American history, like our Third Amendment,
which prevents the government from quartering
soldiers in peacetime, were borrowed by many countries
in Latin America, also a right to bear arms, the presidential
system of government. What’s happened over
time as countries have gone through various
iterations of constitutions is that, I think, that the
influence of the United States has declined over time. Institutions like the
electoral college, which many question the validity
of even here in the United States, were experimented
with in several countries but generally
rejected, over time. So we see, over time I think, a
process of learning in national constitutions, experimentation
about what institutions work and what institutions don’t.

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