United States Constitution and worldwide influence
The United States Constitution and worldwide influence is a view that the United States Constitution has had considerable international influence on later constitutions as well as on legal thinking.
The historian William Hardy McNeill argued that the United States saw itself as "one of a family of peoples and nations" making a history apart from the European civilization of their colonization.
The United States Constitution is an expression of Americans diverging from colonial rule, according to this viewpoint. Its effect is reflected in the ideals of limiting the rulers of a state apart and above sitting law-givers in a parliament. The concepts of governance influencing others internationally are not only found among similarities in phrasing and entire passages from the U.S. Constitution. They are in the principles of the rule of law and recognition of individual rights. The American experience of fundamental law with amendments and judicial review has motivated foreign constitutionalists to reconsider possibilities for their own future. This view informed Abraham Lincoln during the American Civil War,[a] his contemporary and ally Benito Juarez of Mexico,[b] and the second generation of 19th constitutional nationalists, José Rizal of the Philippines[c] and Sun Yat-sen of China.[d]
Generally the influence of the Constitution is documented in trans-national history of ideas, foreign translations, and exchanges between Americans and their counterparts from the beginning with smuggled translations into Hispanic America until today with conferences among national legislators. Innovations include constitutional conventions, written constitutions, ratification and amendment procedures. There are common provisions for presidential executives, federalism and judicial review.
George Athan Billias, studying the Constitution and related documents, describes six waves of influence:
- From 1776-1811, after the American Revolution began, it influenced northwestern Europe and its colonial connections.
- 1811-1848, after the decline of Napoleon's reputation, it was referenced by Latin American, Caribbean, and European nationalists.
- 1898-1918, after the Spanish American War, nationalist movements borrowed from the U.S. Constitution in Asia and Latin America.
- 1918-1945, after World War I, its influence spread with movements for decolonization of Africa, Mid-east and Asia.
- 1945-1974, after World War II, independence movements consulted it.
- 1974-1989, after United Nations expansion, once nondemocratic regimes, including European ones, transitioned towards constitutional democracies incorporating elements of the U.S. Constitution.
Over its history, American constitutionalism has waxed and waned in influence. Democratizing countries have often chosen the more centralized, consolidated British or French models. Countries that were once part of the British Empire favored the British Westminster parliamentary system. Internationally it appears that those of Confucian and Islamic cultures do not readily adopt some of its premises. Nevertheless, "the influence of American constitutionalism abroad was profound in the past and remains a remarkable contribution to humankind’s search for freedom under a system of laws."
According to a 2012 study published in the New York University Law Review, however, the influence of the U.S. Constitution may be waning. The study examined more than 700 federal constitutions from nearly 200 countries. "Rather than leading the way for global constitutionalism, the U.S. Constitution appears instead to be losing its appeal as a model for constitutional drafters elsewhere,” the researchers write. “The idea of adopting a constitution may still trace its inspiration to the United States, but the manner in which constitutions are written increasingly does not."
In particular, the study found that the U.S. Constitution guarantees relatively few rights compared to the constitutions of other countries and contains less than half (26 of 60) of the provisions listed in the average bill of rights. It is also one of the few in the world today that still features the right to bear arms; the only others are the constitutions of Guatemala and Mexico. Overall, the research suggests that the Constitution of Canada, revised in 1982, is now a leading international model rather than that of the United States.
The Constitution has been translated into many languages.
The Federal Judicial Center has links to materials about the United States government and judicial system. The site has materials in 16 languages besides English, such as Dari, Indonesian, Malay, Serb, and Turkish.  The Center's statutory mission includes compiling histories and research resources and conferences. Its goal is to improve administration of justice in the U.S. and foreign countries. The Center works with judges and court officials of other nations, and other judicial education organizations.
The Columbia Law Review sponsors the International Constitutional Law Project. The Project has over 100 constitutions and provides English translations of and other textual material related to constitutional documents. The Project cross-references those documents for quick comparison of constitutional provisions internationally and internally within each document; the Project includes background information. The Historical Society of Philadelphia lists translations of the United States Constitution into various foreign languages. One example is Armenian.
University of Chicago Library features constitutional resources on the influence of the Constitution abroad. The Library holds texts of non-U.S. Constitutions, case reports, books, journals, articles and current commentary. At the University of Richmond’s Constitution Finder, there are international constitutions, historical constitutions and state constitutions. There is the Constitution of 1787 with its amendments, five unpassed amendments, the Articles of Confederation, the Confederate Constitution and 84 state constitutions past and present.
Professor James Chen has annotated the Spanish translation prepared by the U.S. State Department. His notes focus on the problems and nuances of this translation. Nguyen Canh Binh has translated the Constitution into Vietnamese. The Bill of Rights has been translated into Hawaiian. Elizabeth Claire has rewritten the Constitution into simplified English. Some of the many translations of the Constitution are listed below.
In 1937 the U.S. Post Office released a commemorative stamp to celebrate the 150th anniversary of the signing of the U.S. Constitution. The engraving shown on this issue is after an 1856 painting by Junius Brutus Stearns of Washington and shows delegates signing the Constitution at the 1787 Convention. George Washington is on dais with an open document in hand; James Madison sits at the table, taking his famous notes on the convention.
One commemorative of the 19th Amendment (permitting women the right to vote) was celebrated in a commemorative in 1950 and again in 1970. The woman is voting in a curtained mechanical voting booth. She chooses levers to punch or mark her votes on a paper roll. The Model T has a man driver with a banner "Votes for women" on the car, women riders and marchers as though in a parade.
The Second Polish Republic issued a commemorative of the U.S. and Polish Constitutions in 1938 under the government of Prime Minister, Major General Składkowski The stamp features George Washington in military regalia, holding a 48-star American flag and a drawn sword. Thomas Paine holds a book on a rod, and Kosciuszko poses with a cross and saber. The next scene shows a line of infantry flying a Polish flag. The right panel shows the Statue of Liberty imposed in front of the New York 1930s skyline.
In 1937 the Second Spanish Republic commemorated the 150th anniversary of the signing of the U.S. Constitution, under the government of Prime Minister Juan Negrín of the Spanish Socialist Workers' Party (PSOE). The Statue of Liberty is the central focus, flanked by flags of Spain and the United States. The Spanish Republic Flag of red, yellow and purple, as battle flag or civil ensign, lacks the coat of arms.
- Billias 2009, xi–xv.
- Farber 2003, p. 3.
- Farber 2003, p. 198.
- Stacy 2003, p. 436.
- Malcolm 1920, p. 109.
- QuingYu 1988, p. 193.
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- "The Declining Influence of the United States Constitution". JournalistsResource.org, retrieved April 4, 2012
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- "International Judicial Relations — Translated Material". Fjc.gov. Retrieved 2009-05-04.
- The Federal Judicial Center, viewed 07/27/2011.
- International Constitutional Law Project, viewed 07/27/2011.
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- "SSRN-The Constitution of the United States in Spanish: A Service for the American People (La Constitucion de los Estados Unidos en Espanol: Un Servicio para el Pueblo Americano) by James Ming Chen". Papers.ssrn.com. Retrieved 2009-05-04.
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- "Arabic-Constitution-2" (PDF). Retrieved 2010-03-17.
- "دستور الولايات المتحدة الأميركية - دستور الولايات المتحدة الأميركية". America.gov. Retrieved 2010-03-17.
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- "Simplified Chinese translation" (PDF). Retrieved 2010-03-17.
- "Constitution of the United States (1787)". Usinfo.org. Retrieved 2010-03-17.
- Theusa.nl (Dutch)
- "French translation of the U.S. Constitution" (PDF). Retrieved 2010-03-17.
- "German Constitution 8-19" (PDF). Retrieved 2010-03-17.
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- "U.S. Constitution". Israel.usembassy.gov. Retrieved 2011-08-02.[dead link]
- "Hungarian translation of the U.S. Constitution". Hungarian.hungary.usembassy.gov. Retrieved 2009-05-04.
- "Italian translation of the U.S. Constitution" (PDF). Retrieved 2010-03-17.
- "Japanese translation of the U.S. Constitution". Aboutusa.japan.usembassy.gov. 2009-03-13. Retrieved 2009-05-04.
- "Korean translation of the U.S. Constitution" (PDF). Retrieved 2010-03-17.
- "Portuguese translation of the U.S. Constitution" (PDF). Retrieved 2010-03-17.
- "Russian translation of the U.S. Constitution" (PDF). Retrieved 2010-03-17.
- Slovakia.usembassy.gov[dead link]
- "Spanish translation of the U.S. Constitution". Cato.org. Retrieved 2009-05-04.
- "United States of America: Constitución de 1787 en español". Pdba.georgetown.edu. Retrieved 2009-05-04.
- "Constitución de los Estados Unidos de América — The U.S. Constitution Online". USConstitution.net. 2010-01-24. Retrieved 2010-03-17.
- Kyiv.usembassy.gov[dead link]
- "Secession was indeed unconstitutional...military resistance to secession was not only constitutional but also morally justified. "the primary purpose of the Constitution was ... to create ‘a more perfect union’... the Constitution was an exercise in nation building.
- Juarez regarded the United States as a model of republican democracy and consistently supported Abraham Lincoln.
- The institutions of the two countries which have most influenced constitutional development are Spain and the United States." One of the reforms, "sine quibus non", to use the words of Rizal and Mabini, always insisted upon by the Filipinos, was Philippine representation in the Spanish Cortez, the promulgation in the Islands of the Spanish Constitution, and the complete assimilation equal to that of any in the Spanish provinces on the continent.
- In the modern history of China, there were many revolutionaries who tried to seek the truth from the West in order to overthrow the feudal system of the Ching Dynasty. Dr. Sun Yat-sen for example was much influenced by American democracy, especially the U.S. Constitution.