Prof. Fraley on Constitutional Change

Professor Jill M. Fraley, Assistant Professor of Law, recently posted on Professor Jack Balkin’s blog, Balkinization.

The post discusses the history of the Appalachian Regional Commission, which developed from John F. Kennedy’s campaign visit to West Virginia. It possesses a unique structure. State governors or their appointed representatives govern the board. The president appoints one co-chairman as a federal representative. State governors elect the second co-chairman. Proposals may be initiated at the local level, but must be officially proposed by a state. No proposals can originate at the federal level. Various constitutional protections were put into place to allay fears that a federal group would be controlled by the states. Slowly, however, these safeguards were eroded, the last one falling in 1998.

Ultimately, Prof. Fraley believes this constitutional history is a strong cautionary tale.  When we focus on the judiciary and narrow our constitutional questions to violations, we neglect a broader view of trajectories and drifts. When we focus on narrative history, we illuminate the successes and failures of powerful social movements without interrogating their potential for the unanticipated and unintentional: stealth constitutional change.

You can find the post here.

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