2 J.L. & Cts. 1 (2014)

handle is hein.journals/jlawct2 and id is 1 raw text is: 









Theorizing the Constitutional


Revolution


          GARY   JEFFREY   JACOBSOHN, University  ofTexas atAustin




ABSTRACT
The concept of the constitutional revolution has become ubiquitous, but it is applied to all manner of
things that are unlike each other in notable ways. It has been generously applied to events in such far-flung
places as South Africa, Eastern Europe, Great Britain, India, Canada, Iran, Israel, and the United States.
Despite its oxymoronic character, it has the potential to illuminate a much-vexed subject of scholarly in-
quiry. This article seeks to sharpen conceptual clarity in the way we depict constitutional change, specifi-
cally that species of change that entails significant breaks or departures in the workings of the constitu-
tional order.




Rarely in the public law domain has an analytical construct experienced such ubiquitous
yet undertheorized application as has the term constitutional revolution. It is an idea that
has been  generously applied  to all manner  of things that are dissimilar in significant
respects. Yet much  as there is no general agreement  on  the necessary and  sufficient
characteristics of revolution (Kotowski 1984, 5), so too is there no broadly accepted
understanding  for the concept's specific constitutional derivative. What is more,  the
association of revolution with a modifier that on first notice provokes more confusion
than illumination poses an additional challenge for users of the term: demonstrating the
utility of a seemingly oxymoronic terminological linkage.
   The  larger challenge, however, and the focus of this article, is to sharpen conceptual
clarity in the way we depict constitutional change, specifically that species of change that
entails significant breaks or departures in the workings of the constitutional order. Such
discontinuities can take varied forms, ranging from the embrace of wholly new constitu-
tional arrangements to the textual or interpretive displacement of long-standing expecta-
tions about how  matters of constitutive import are to be resolved. While it is only stating
the obvious to point to change as the common   variable in all the instances that are com-



Contact the author at gjacobsohn@austin.utexas.edu.

Journal of Law and Courts (Spring 2014)  2014 by the Law and Courts Organized Section of the American Political Science
Association. All rights reserved. 2164-6570/2014/0201-0002$10.00

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