Is Constitutional Veneration an Obstacle to Constitutional Amendment?

Christopher T. Dawes, James R. Zink

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


    Some constitutional scholars suggest that the US Constitution stands as one of the oldest yet least changed national constitutions in part because Americans' tendency to revere the Constitution has left them unwilling to consider significant changes to the document. Several recent studies support aspects of this claim, but no study establishes a direct link between individuals' respect for the Constitution and their reluctance to amend it. To address this, we replicate and extend the research design of Zink and Dawes (2016) across two survey experiments. The key difference in our experiments is we include measures of respondents' propensity to revere the Constitution, which in turn allows us to more directly test whether constitutional veneration translates into resistance to amendment. Our results build on Zink and Dawes's findings and show that, in addition to institutional factors, citizens' veneration of the Constitution can act as a psychological obstacle to constitutional amendment.

    Original languageEnglish (US)
    Pages (from-to)395-406
    Number of pages12
    JournalJournal of Experimental Political Science
    Issue number3
    StatePublished - Nov 2 2022


    • constitutional amendment
    • constitutional veneration
    • constitutionalism

    ASJC Scopus subject areas

    • Sociology and Political Science


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