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Public Law & Legal Theory


Constitutional amendment procedures can create constitutional change in two ways: by providing evidence of popular support for constitutional change, and by changing the textual basis for subsequent acts of constitutional interpretation. Both mechanisms have clearly also succeeded, in various countries, in creating changes in the domain of constitutional identity. The question the essay investigates is whether there is nonetheless something peculiar about this domain that makes it especially difficult to succeed in using both these amendment mechanisms, simultaneously, in the quest for constitutional change. To explore this question, the essay draws on two distinct attempts to “amend” constitutional identity in Australia and the US in the 1960’s and 70’s, involving the 1967 amendments to the Australian Constitution and proposed 1972 Equal Rights Amendment (ERA).



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