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Take Notice: CHANGED LOCATION: Library of the University of Amsterdam (Potgieterzaal C0.01). Title: "Constitutions as products". Note: this extra Compliance and Enforcement seminar is held on a Tuesday instead of a Monday: Tuesday, 8 Jan. 2013, 11.45-13.15.

Event details of ACLE Compliance and Enforcement Seminar: Tom Ginsburg (University of Chicago Law School)
Date 8 January 2013
Time 11:45 -13:15
Location Universiteitsbibliotheek
Room Library of the University of Amsterdam (Potgieterzaal C0.01)


An implicit element of many theories of constitutional enforcement is the degree to which those subject to constitutional law can agree on what its provisions mean (call this constitutional interpretability). Unfortunately, there is little evidence on baseline levels of constitutional interpretability or the variance therein. This article seeks to fill this gap in the literature, by assessing the effect of contextual, textual and interpreter characteristics on the interpretability of constitutional documents. Constitutions are found to vary in their degree of interpretability. Surprisingly, however, the most important determinants of variance are not contextual (for example, era, language or culture), but textual. This result emphasizes the important role that constitutional drafters play in the implementation of their product.

About the Speaker

Prof. Dr. Tom Ginsburg focuses on comparative and international law from an interdisciplinary perspective. He holds BA, JD, and PhD degrees from the University of California at Berkeley. One of his books, Judicial Review in New Democracies (Cambridge University Press 2003) won the C. Herman Pritchett Award from the American Political Science Association for best book on law and courts. He has served as a visiting professor at the University of Tokyo, Kyushu University, Seoul National University, the Interdisciplinary Center Herzliya, the University of Pennsylvania, and the University of Trento. He currently co-directs the Comparative Constitutions Project, an effort funded by the National Science Foundation to gather and analyze the constitutions of all independent nation-states since 1789. Before entering law teaching, he served as a legal adviser at the Iran-U.S. Claims Tribunal, The Hague, Netherlands, and consulted with numerous international development agencies and foreign governments on legal and constitutional reform.


Room Library of the University of Amsterdam (Potgieterzaal C0.01)

Singel 425
1012 WP Amsterdam