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Constitutional Democracy

'Constitutional Democracy' cover image

Constitutional Democracy

Creating and Maintaining a Just Political Order

Winner, 2007 Best of the Social Sciences, Professional and Scholarly Publishing Division of the Association of American Publishers
2007 Award for Excellence in Government and Politics, Professional and Scholarly Publishing Division of the Association of American Publishers

Constitutional democracy is a political hybrid, the product of an uneasy union between, on the one hand, the normative theories of constitutionalism and democracy and, on the other, the desire to live under what James Madison called "free government." In this engaging and provocative work, Walter F. Murphy combines a lifetime's study of constitutions and democracy with traditional storytelling to answer fundamental questions about constitutional democracy: How is it created? How is it maintained? How can it be adapted to changing circumstances?

Murphy begins with a definitional section on constitutions, constitutional texts, constitutionalism, and democracy. Next, he tells the story of how a democracy is established within the context of a fictional constitutional convention for a fictional country. He follows delegates—many of whose arguments track those of real-life political, economic, and legal theorists—as they debate and draft the components of a constitution. Here, the reader comes to understand and appreciate the components of a constitutional text and the contingency and potential of the constitution-making process. Murphy then offers an expository analysis of constitutional maintenance, adaptation, and, essentially, constitutional change.