Carl J. Friedrich's Legacy: Understanding Constitutionalism as a Political System
Carl J. Friedrich (1901-1984) defined constitutionalism as something more than can be expressed by the dominant behavioralist paradigm of modern political science and the typical academic focus on law and courts. A leading but now neglected post-WWII authority on constitutionalism, Friedrich argued that it should be understood as an institutionally-based, interactive system for deliberating the meaning and legal application of the norms of a political community. His approach shares much with the contemporary “historical institutionalist” call to situate law and courts within a broader, more normative, and more interactive conception of constitutionalism. Accordingly, a reconsideration of Friedrich's work may help current efforts to better articulate the full richness and complexity of constitutionalism as a distinctive way of ordering political life.