Constitute 5.0

The world’s site for constitutions now includes data—lots of data

For eight years now, Constitute has been supplying indexed versions of the world’s constitutions. Built for constitutional drafters, the site is visited by over 7,000 drafters, scholars, and ordinary citizens each day. As of today, Constitute has a new look and new features—our fifth major redesign in eight years. “Phase V” of the site connects the constitutional texts with constitutional data, a peanut-butter-and-jelly moment. Read on to hear about these changes or, if you’re new to Constitute, what you’ve been missing.

The Core Features

The typical use of Constitute is to retrieve constitutional provisions by topic, and that use is still very much…

Photo by You X Ventures on Unsplash

Another case of mismatched motives and outcomes

I teach a group of some twenty mid-career professionals, who are part of an innovative business program at the University of Texas. The group is carefully selected, and intentionally diverse — at least with respect to gender. The rapport during these classes is remarkably energetic, relaxed, and direct. This week I asked the group to imagine a variant of their group, one whose members were mostly (or all) of the same gender. The idea was utterly repellant to them; all professed, vehemently, that they would much prefer the diverse group. Women and men were equally adamant. And since I know…

Cómo leer las reformas constitucionales cubanas

El 24 de febrero, los ciudadanos cubanos acudirán a las urnas para votar (sí o no) sobre una revisión importante a su Constitución. El referéndum constitucional es hoy día una práctica común en las democracias modernas, pero en realidad es una práctica bastante extraña. No es fácil para los ciudadanos decidir si deben aprobar o no una constitución. En cierta forma, podría decirse que antes de decidir, los votantes deberían leer el borrador de una constitución, y compararla con la actual y con otras constituciones en el mundo. …

How to Read the Cuban Constitutional Reforms

On February 24, Cuban citizens will go to the polls to approve a major revision to their Constitution. This sort of constitutional referendum is now common practice in modern democracies, but it is an odd practice. It is not easy for citizens to arrive at an up or down decision on a constitution. One thing that helps is to read the draft constitution in comparison with both the current law and other constitutions in the world. That’s what a group of scholars has done this week by publishing (in both English and Spanish) the Cuban draft constitution on Constitute —…

On behalf of my colleagues at the Comparative Constitutions Project and Jigsaw, I am proud to announce the roll-out of Version 4.0 of Constitute, the site dedicated to the comparative study of constitutional text. Although Constitute was built for drafters and others in the Constitutions “business,” v.4.0 moves us closer to the ordinary citizen, which is where a Constitutional project should live. Let me explain.

Constitute Landing Page

One nagging challenge in Constitutional design is how to involve citizens in the drafting process in a meaningful way. One traditional role for citizens is to review and approve the proposed text by referendum. The…

During the final six years of the Obama administration, Americans became accustomed to polarized politics. Nearly everything of any importance that had to go through both the Capitol and the White House ground to a halt. Of course, Obamacare threaded that needle, but just barely, and has been in Republicans’ crosshairs ever since. In a Trump administration, the only thing that seems certain is the death of Obamacare.

But what should rise in its place, if anything, is unclear. One possibility is that we simply rebrand Obamacare, maybe with some modest updates and refinements. After all, roses in American politics…

Credit: Melissa Marques on Flickr. Some rights reserved.

For a presumably historic event, the making of a Constitution seems to happen a lot. Each year, approximately 4 to 5 national Constitutions are replaced and another 20 to 30 are amended significantly. The basic tasks in constitution-making — research, analysis, drafting, deliberation, and amendment — are not much different today than they were 200 years ago. Nevertheless, writing implements have changed since the days of quills and parchment. Modern constitution makers look to information technologies such as Google Docs to help them through what sometimes seems to be an Herculean task.

The Challenge of Constitution-Making

I say Herculean because while writing anything collectively…

The answer, apparently, is yes. As of today (Constitution Day), a Google search on “constitution” squeezes the 4,500 word U.S. Constitution on a card at the top of the results (and a 3x5 card at that, at least on my screen). A drop-down menu allows the reader to jump through sections.

A number of other constitutions are there too — try searching “Bhutan Constitution” and read about that country’s commitment to Gross National Happiness in Article 9 (2). …

Some not-so-happy doping headlines from baseball pushed me to take a broader perspective on the game. Devotion to baseball sometimes surprises people, especially those who grew up without it outside the United States. Indeed, most fans have, at some point, felt obligated to defend the game, or at least explain its grip on them (usually to others, but sometimes to themselves). I’m not sure that I can do any of that adequately but here are a few thoughts.

The game’s universality

It would probably be easier to explain baseball’s attraction if its fans had a distinctive profile. But because of the game’s widespread…

Zachary Elkins

Professor of Government at the University of Texas.

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