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  1. constitutionalism, doctrine that a government’s authority is determined by a body of laws or constitution. Although constitutionalism is sometimes regarded as a synonym for limited government, that is only one interpretation and by no means the most prominent one historically.

    • Constitutionalism: a Minimal and a Rich Sense. In some minimal sense of the term, a constitution consists of a set of norms (rules, principles or values) creating, structuring, and possibly defining the limits of, government power or authority.
    • Sovereign versus Government. Though there are serious difficulties inherent in Austin’s attempt to make sense of the people’s ultimate sovereignty, his account, with all its weaknesses, does reveal the need to distinguish between two different concepts: sovereignty and government.
    • Entrenchment. According to most theorists, another important feature of constitutionalism is that the norms imposing limits upon government power must be in some way, and to some degree, be entrenched, either legally or by way of constitutional convention.
    • Writtenness. Some scholars believe that constitutional norms do not exist unless they are in some way enshrined in a written document (e.g., Rubenfeld 1998).
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    What is constitutionalism?

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  3. Constitutionalism is "a compound of ideas, attitudes, and patterns of behavior elaborating the principle that the authority of government derives from and is limited by a body of fundamental law ". Political organizations are constitutional to the extent that they "contain institutionalized mechanisms of power control for the protection of the ...

  4. One is libertarian (or “classical liberal”) constitutionalism, which emphasizes principles of individual freedom that are often in uneasy tension with the Constitution’s original meaning and the...

  5. Akhil Amar argued that its core meaning referred to the “collective” rights of the people, for example, to alter or abolish their government, and that to suppose it protected “counter-majoritarian” individual rights was anachronistic.

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