On February 7, 2012, a front-page article in The New York Times reported that the Constitution of the United States has ceased to be the leading model for constitution-writers in other countries. According to The Times, and to the law review article on which The Times based its report, the U.S. Constitution has fallen increasingly out of alignment with an evolving international consensus regarding the individual rights that a constitution ought to protect. In addition, the constitutions of other countries copy the structural provisions of the U.S. Constitution—involving federalism and the separation of powers—far less frequently than they once did. As the editors of The Times undoubtedly anticipated when they put their story on the front page, the news that other countries no longer regard the Constitution of the United States as a paradigm of excellence seems likely to provoke a shock of surprise in many American minds. Questions follow. Why have other countries ceased to treat the U.S. Constitution as a prototype? By reflecting on what others might view as deficiencies in our Constitution—most of which was written in the eighteenth century—can we achieve an enhanced understanding of the respective ways in which it may serve us well and badly in the twenty-first century? And if so, how should we go forward?

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