Constitutionalism Through the Looking Glass of Latin America

Miguel Schor, Suffolk University Law School

Abstract

This Article explores the following question: why did constitutionalism in Latin America take a different path than in the United States? Constitutions were adopted throughout the New World in the wake of independence movements in the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries to effectuate republican government. Yet constitutionalism in Latin America led to dictatorship whereas constitutionalism in the United States led to republican government. The conventional answer to this issue is that the constitution was entrenched in the United States because law is independent from politics, whereas constitutions were not entrenched in Latin America because politics trumped constitutions. This Article argues, however, that constitutions become entrenched against political inroads when citizens are willing to mobilize on behalf of the fundamental rules of the game.