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On America’s Constitutions

Many have focused on the US Constitution as an enduring document that has guided America from a young, chaotic nation to a world power, but are we missing its flaws? For every “majestic generality” of the constitution, there are the bizarre burdens of electoral college and quirks of governance.

We sat down with Sanford Levinson, author of Framed: America’s 51 Constitutions and the Crisis of Governance, to talk about America’s constitutions — state and national — and their role in current politics.

On State Constitutions

On the California Constitution

On Exporting Democracy

On Constitutional Scholarship and Punditry

Sanford Levinson is Professor of Law and Political Science at the University of Texas-Austin. His books include Framed: America’s 51 Constitutions and the Crisis of Governance, Our Undemocratic Constitution, Constitutional Faith, and Wrestling with Diversity.

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Recent Comments

  1. RonF

    I don’t think the Electoral College is absurd. It’s a great way to preserve partial State sovereignty. We are a Federal republic of sovereign States, not a direct democracy with 50 districts to help simplify things a bit.

  2. S. Banshee

    Quirks of law are a function, not a bug. Having drastically different state laws is the whole point of federalism. We live in fifty different states, shaped by dramatically different climates, geographical features, histories, settlement groups, ideals, and so on.

    As it is, federalism is mostly threatened by people bending to the laws of the US in areas they have no business legislating (powers reserved to the states in the US constitution), or by the stupid laws of big or influential states being followed by those who shouldn’t be affected. For example, my dishwasher doesn’t clean as well as it used to, because idiots in Oregon demanded that the phosphates be removed from detergent, and manufacturers decided it was easier to go along in every state rather than just pull their detergents from that market and let people lump it. That’s anti-federalism, if you like.

    It’s also one of the points of that lil’ ol’ American Revolution. Suffice it to say that if I wanted to live solely by the laws of Washington, DC, I’d go live there.

  3. [...] and the Crisis of Governance, explains the bigger constitutional picture by looking at the 51 different constitutions that rule our states and how each of them are collectively more democratic than the original U.S [...]

  4. [...] and the Crisis of Governance, explains the bigger constitutional picture by looking at the 51 different constitutions that rule our states and how each of them are collectively more democratic than the original U.S [...]

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