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Is an unamendable constitution undemocratic? Show more Show less
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Unamendability is a growing constitutional trend. But is it compatible with democratic values? Does unamendability force future generations into a necrocracy, the ‘dead hand’ grip of those that wrote the constitution? Does it place too much power in the hands of the judiciary? Can institutions face modern democratic challenges without the flexibility to amend the nation's constitution?

It's a pointless question Show more Show less

The question has no relevance because states already bound to an unamendable constitution have no alternative at this point.
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There is no alternative

For states that already have an unamendable constitution, there is no alternative. Therefore, the question is pointless as it has no practical application.
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If a state already has a constitution that cannot be replaced or amended, there is no alternative.

The Argument

If a state has a written constitution that does not allow for amendments or a replacement, there is no choice but to find a way to make democracy work without amending the constitution. The government could choose to ignore the stipulation that the constitution cannot be amended. However, in doing so, it would undermine any future constitution and open a Pandora’s box where future governments may choose to ignore fragments of the constitution at will.

Counter arguments

A debate’s value is not in its application. We can debate questions like the existence of fate, the mind-body debate, and the veracity of rationalism which have no bearing or application on our lives or government systems but hold value as an intellectual exercise. Additionally, the statement is factually incorrect. There is an alternative. As long as the constituents have the ability to write a new constitution, there is an alternative course of action within democratic channels. The electorate can provide the country with a legitimate government willing to replace the constitution with a new constitution that is amendable through the appropriate democratic processes.


[P1] Nations with an unamendable constitution have no avenue for constitutional change. [P2] Therefore, the debate is pointless if those affected have no power to change their circumstances.

Rejecting the premises

[Rejecting P1] There are avenues for constitutional change, even under unamendable constitutions. [Rejecting P2] Debates purely for theoretical and abstract purposes still have intellectual importance.


    This page was last edited on Wednesday, 22 Jan 2020 at 15:29 UTC


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