Constitutional Political Economy

, Volume 10, Issue 4, pp 375–383 | Cite as

On Ackerman's Justification of Irregular Constitutional Change: Is Any Vice You Get Away With a Virtue?

  • Robert Higgs


In We the People: 2. Transformations, Bruce Ackerman makes a case for irregular change of the U.S. Constitution, as opposed to the amendment procedure stipulated in Article V. He argues that such irregular--even revolutionary--change has occurred in the past, most notably after the war of secession and during the New Deal era, and he proffers those episodes as suitable models for future constitutional change. In making his argument for moving “beyond formalism,” Ackerman misconstrues the meaning of ordinary electoral victories, employs misleading rhetorical flourishes, places unwarranted weight on the Supreme Court's “validation” of irregular constitutional change, and overlooks the capacity of electoral winners to rig subsequent elections.


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


  1. Ackerman, B. (1998) We the People 2: Transformations. Cambridge: Belknap Press of Harvard University Press.Google Scholar
  2. DiLorenzo, T. J. (1998) "The Great Centralizer: Abraham Lincoln and theWar between the States." Independent Review 3: 243–71.Google Scholar
  3. Flynn, J. T. (1948) The Roosevelt Myth. Garden City, N.Y.: Garden City Books.Google Scholar
  4. Hummel, J. R. (1996) Emancipating Slaves, Enslaving Free Men: A History of the American Civil War. Chicago: Open Court.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Kluwer Academic Publishers 1999

Authors and Affiliations

  • Robert Higgs
    • 1
  1. 1.Seattle UniversityIndependent InstituteEdmondsUSA

Personalised recommendations