Welcome to the Center for Constitutional Design at the Sandra Day O’Connor College of Law at Arizona State University. This Substack includes essays, blog entries, and other thought pieces that we hope will advance national and global conversations about how to design constitutions to support and promote constitutional democracy most effectively.
You may be wondering, but what is “constitutional design”? Quite simply, constitutions are coordinating instruments: they set forth the ground rules for citizens, organizations, policy makers and governmental agencies to coordinate their efforts to translate the public’s will into democratic action. Any experiment in democratic self-governance requires the creation of a “playbook” for determining how to operate that government in ways that channel citizens’ preferences into policies. In the United States, the Framers of the U.S. Constitution made a series of design choices about those democratic ground rules—including federalism, the separation of powers, a federal government of limited and enumerated powers, and the protection of the people’s rights to be free from detrimental government interference in their lives and activities.
No matter your profession or background, we hope you will join us in our efforts to secure our democracy and constitution for future generations. Democracy is difficult—indeed, perhaps the most difficult governmental system—because it involves negotiation and compromise, and because no one player in the system may mandate outcomes or invade citizens’ rights. But the alternative systems are far less palatable. Authoritarian governments trample our precious inalienable rights to self-actualization, to liberty, and to justice. We look forward to your feedback, participation, and new ideas.
The mission of the Center for Constitutional Design is to promote nationwide conversations about constitutional continuity, reform, and the advancement of constitutional democracy; to suggest ways reforms could be implemented to preserve our constitutional system; to leverage knowledge of other nations’ constitutions to better understand our own; and to convene, collaborate, and coordinate with citizens, thinkers, commentators, and institutions—nationally and internationally—to achieve these ends.
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Join us to become a part of the conversation, to understand the concept of constitutional design, to engage in the exchange of ideas about how constitutions provide the necessary foundation for a self-governing people, and how they preserve our civic institutions, our democratic rights and privileges, and encourage a shared dedication to the common good in the United States and in countries around the world.
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