What is a Twentieth-Century Constitution?
Document Type Article
Published in Maryland Law Review, v. 67, no. 1, 2007, p. 238-257. An earlier version of this paper was presented at the Maryland Constitutional Law Schmooze, December 1-2, 2006. See: http://digitalcommons.law.umaryland.edu/schmooze_papers/63/
At present, almost all of the constitutions in the world are twentieth-century constitutions; indeed, most of them were not adopted until the second half of the twentieth century. Accordingly, the eighteenth-century Constitution of the United States -- which includes the original constitution of 1787-89; the first ten amendments, adopted in 1791; and the Eleventh Amendment, adopted in 1798 -- antedates most other constitutions of the world by at least 150 years.
Using the eighteenth-century Constitution of the United States as a form of base-line (a method that may be parochial, but one that I think also has a lot to be said for it), we can examine the characteristics of modern constitutions -- that is, the characteristics of twentieth-century constitutions.
This article sketches the most striking differences and contrasts between the eighteenth-century Constitution of the United States and certain of its twentieth-century counterparts.