From democratic dualism to political realism: Transforming the constitution

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In the latest volume of Bruce Ackerman's We the People, he sets out to demonstrate that the Constitution has been legitimately amended by "unconventional" means, or by mechanisms other than the Article V amendment process. In making this argument, Ackerman offers a rich constitutional history of the Founding period, the Reconstruction era, and the New Deal. He successfully demonstrates that unconventional methods were used to alter accepted constitutional meaning and government practices during these periods. Unfortunately, Ackerman does not provide an adequate theory that can demonstrate the legal significance of these historical events for future constitutional practice. Moreover, his effort to legitimate the New Deal's constitutional revolution undermines his own normative theory of "dualist democracy" and seems to embrace a standard Legal Realist analysis that the Constitution simply is whatever powerful government officials declare it to mean.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)405-414
Number of pages10
JournalConstitutional Political Economy
Issue number4
StatePublished - 1999

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Sociology and Political Science
  • Philosophy
  • Economics and Econometrics
  • Law


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