The United States on one level is a powerful nation, still in many ways the most powerful player in the international arena. Its system of democratic government is long standing and its values remain much admired throughout the world. Indeed America’s constitutional arrangements have provided an inspiration, if not an institutional template, for many other countries. Within the United States itself the written Constitution has long been at the core of a small number of symbols that are crucial to national identity (Kammen, 1986; Amar, 2012). Popular veneration of the Constitution is not, of course, entirely replicated in the scholarly community where there has recently emerged a vigorous debate about the health of the constitutional system. As James E. Fleming put it, there is ‘considerable talk of failure in the air these days — including constitutional failure, moral failure, and institutional failure’ (Fleming, 2009). Sanford Levinson, one of the major scholars who has attempted to bring an unblinkered eye to the Constitution, has noted that the constitutional system has become a central, if sometimes challenged, element of the American political tradition and of the American civil religion (Levinson, 2011).
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- An Emerging Constitutional Debate
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