Frank Michelman, Rawls on Constitutionalism and Constitutional Law, in Rawls and Law (Thom Brooks ed., 2012).
Abstract: Constitutionalism – the idea of the subjection of even the highest political authority in a country to limits and requirements having the form and force of law — is a notion of normative political theory. A kind of constitutional contractarianism is John Rawls’s response to the question of the possibility of legitimate government in modern, plural societies. Constitutional law is a body of learning used to apply the canonical constitution’s provisions to specific controversies. Rawls has sought to ascertain the conditions of the possibility of political legitimacy in modern, plural societies. Rawls looks to democratic political culture for the makings of a basis for political agreement robust enough to support a democratic constitution even while allowing for the ingrained tendency of constitutional democracy itself to sustain a wide diversity of conflicting moral and religious doctrines. In South Africa, the Constitution expressly calls on the judiciary at all levels for performance of this responsibility.