Constitutional reform must be agreed upon by ‘substantially all’ of us

Future Notes

Last week I argued that a state’s constitution usually takes precedence over general notions of majority rule and I also indicated that the United States Federalist Papers were written to encourage the states to support the ratification of the Federal Constitution and that James Madison believed that one of the best arguments in favour of federalism was its capacity to keep both minority and majority factions in check.

Since racial, near permanent political factions, have been the bugbears of our society for longer than we would care to remember and most of us are now agreed that unless we find constitutional ways of sensibly dealing with them our development will remain suboptimal, it is my contention that the United States constitutional process and outcomes may contain some useful lessons.

It should be noted that Madison was directing his comments to the important state of New York at a point where the requirement that nine of the thirteen states had to ratify the constitution before it could have come into force had already been achieved. Madison may have been focusing on New York because it was believed that if that state did not ratify, not only would the union be weaker but there was a good chance that the legitimacy of the project would be questioned and the entire federal enterprise unravel.

20130220futurenotesBe that as it may, two points are suggested here in relation to the question of majority rule and constitution-making. Firstly, ratification of a new  …..To continue reading, login or subscribe now.

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