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Legislatures as Constituent Assemblies

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Chapter Summary

Constitutions regulate legislatures, and legislatures sometimes create constitutions. This chapter tries to make out a normative argument for the view that constitutions ought to be written by assemblies called into being exclusively for that purpose and devoting themselves exclusively to that task. It refers to these as constitutional conventions or, more briefly, as conventions. A striking fact, however, is that only a small fraction of constitutions have actually been written in this way. The large majority of them have been written by constituent legislatures, that is, by bodies that have combined constituent and legislative functions. At the end, the chapter addresses, very briefly, the question why the normatively desirable mode of constitution-making has not been more widely adopted. The main concern of the chapter, however, is to make the case for the superiority of conventions over other assemblies.

Keywords:constituent assemblies; legislatures

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