Democracy and Constitutions: Putting Citizens First
Published: July 2021© 2021
220 Pages, 6.00 x 9.00 x 0.50 in, 5 figures
As things stand, a commitment to weak democracy and strong constitutionalism ensures that a range of elite groups, actors, and institutions – political, economic, intellectual, and legal – hold considerable sway over constitutional matters, leaving less room for the participation of ordinary people. With the continued primacy of liberal constitutionalism, constitutional law has come to represent and facilitate the centrality of judicial power and authority. In Democracy and Constitutions, Allan C. Hutchinson warns against this deference to a legal elite on questions of constitutional meaning. For Hutchinson, an over-reliance on constitutional law, and a lack of attention to democratic politics, keeps people from influencing the moral and political character of society; it saps civic energies and relegates ordinary people to the sidelines.
Engaging and provocative, Democracy and Constitutions charts a course away from the elitism of the present and toward a more democratic future, one that re-balances society’s commitment to both democracy and constitutions. Advocating for a strong democracy and weak constitutionalism, this book places ordinary people at the institutional heart of government and politics, arguing that such a re-calibration is better for democracy and for society.
2. A Constitutionalist State of Mind: A Deeper Look
3. Constitutional Origins: Undemocratic Beginnings?
4. A Higher Justice: Some Fundamental Problems
5. Making Changes: Constitutional Updates
6. Striving for Democracy: An Endless Journey
7. Towards ‘Democratic’ Courts: A Salvage Operation
8. A Time for Change: Democratic Constitutions
9. Beyond Courts: Toward Democratic Institutions
10. Laughing and Remembering: Putting Democracy First
"Building from a critical account of the origins and development of Canadian and US constitutionalism, Allan C. Hutchinson contributes to the burgeoning literature on strong democracy within a framework of weak but real constitutionalism, with thoughtful – and provocative! – suggestions for institutional reforms that promote strong democracy."Mark Tushnet, William Nelson Cromwell Professor of Law Emeritus, Harvard Law School
"Allan C. Hutchinson delivers a provocative and timely plea for a profound collective commitment to democracy. Written in a register of ‘serious laughter’, and inspired by Milan Kundera whose readers, Hutchinson says, ‘take themselves out of their comfort zone and put themselves at risk’, his book indicts constitutionalism for forgetting and failing the democratic project, and pushes us to imagine what true trust in real people might mean for our institutions."Shauna Van Praagh, Professor of Law, McGill University
"Allan C. Hutchinson has produced a powerful critique of constitutionalism, as government by elites serving the interests of elites, while also persuasively making the case for more democracy in response. Elegantly written and well argued, this is an uncomfortable challenge to liberal complacency, with radical and inspiring ideas about how to enhance popular participation in all aspects of constitutional decision-making."Keith Ewing, Professor of Public Law, King’s College London