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Lessons for Emerging European Constitutionalism from the United States Constitution: Trigger Rules


  • McGinnis John O.

    (Yeshiva University)


This essay offers some lessons from the history of the United States Constitution for constitutions for emerging democracies in Eastern Europe. The United States Constitution declined in efficacy over time because special interests eroded its restraints on rent-seeking. This essay seeks to consider solutions to prevent constitutional decline. It suggests that since special interests will try to dissolve constitutional restraints, the original constitution should itself contain trigger rulers imposing new restraints when certain events occur that suggest the old restraints are weakening. Thus in this essay I suggest creating constitutional provisions to spring into effect when the consequences of constitutional decline become apparent in the polity.Cet article met en avant quelques leçons puisées dans lhistoire de la constitution américaine pour les constitutions des démocraties naissantes de lEurope Orientale. La constitution des Etats-Unis a perdu de son efficacité au fil du temps parce que les intérêts particuliers ont entamé les contraintes qui pesaient sur les activités de recherche de rente. Cet article essaye denvisager des solutions pour contrecarrer le déclin constitutionnel. Il suggère que, puisque les intérêts particuliers essayent de dissoudre les contraintes constitutionnelles, la constitution devrait inclure, à lorigine même, des règles dactivation imposant de nouvelles contraintes quand certains évènements qui surviennent révèlent linsuffisance des contraintes antérieures. Ainsi, dans cet article, lauteur suggère la création de dispositions constitutionnelles qui sont activées quand les conséquences du déclin constitutionnel sont apparentes au niveau politique.

Suggested Citation

  • McGinnis John O., 2001. "Lessons for Emerging European Constitutionalism from the United States Constitution: Trigger Rules," Journal des Economistes et des Etudes Humaines, De Gruyter, vol. 11(1), pages 1-20, March.
  • Handle: RePEc:bpj:jeehcn:v:11:y:2001:i:1:n:3

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. David Laband, 1988. "Transactions costs and production in a legislative setting," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 57(2), pages 183-186, May.
    2. Weingast, Barry R, 1995. "The Economic Role of Political Institutions: Market-Preserving Federalism and Economic Development," Journal of Law, Economics, and Organization, Oxford University Press, vol. 11(1), pages 1-31, April.
    3. North, Douglass C & Wallis, John Joseph, 1982. "American Government Expenditures: A Historical Perspective," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 72(2), pages 336-340, May.
    4. repec:cup:apsrev:v:87:y:1993:i:03:p:567-576_10 is not listed on IDEAS
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