Constitutional Design Two Ways: Constitutional Drafters as Judges

By Rosalind Dixon

Constitutional scholarship often assumes a strict separation between processes of constitutional drafting and interpretation. Yet on constitutional courts around the world, the judges charged with interpreting a constitution’s text are often the same people who helped write or ratify that text only a few years before. This Article examines the phenomenon of constitutional drafters as judges and the insights to be gained from a study of such judges about the nature of democratic constitution-making — i.e., the degree to which constitution making inevitably takes place over an extended time period, involves processes of constitutional interpretation as well as drafting, and combines forms of legal and political judgment. It further suggests that insights of this kind may invite closer attention to the virtues of certain kinds of judges as agents of democratic constitutional change — i.e., judges who resemble a majority of democratic constitutional drafters by possessing both legal and political relationships, skills, and commitments, or who resemble many actual drafter-judges in that they are lawyer-politicians.

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