Theses Doctoral

American Unwritten Constitutionalism

Ahmed, Ashraf

This dissertation explores contemporary American unwritten constitutionalism in three areas of public law: constitutional theory, election law, and administrative law. Drawing on methods familiar to political theory—analytic political philosophy and intellectual history—it offers a way of analyzing constitutional phenomena beyond legal reasoning tethered to text.

The first essay uses social philosophy to build a theory of constitutional norms that explains their salient features and functions. The second essay builds a framework for understanding the concept of representation in the law of democracy. It uses political theory to reveal the latent normative questions animating election law doctrine.

The third and final essay recovers the lost and contested origins of presidential administration during the Reagan administration. It shows how the combined efforts of executive branch lawyers, judges, and academics decisively brought the administrative state under presidential control and laid the foundations for the emergence of a plebiscitary president. Together these essays provide proof of concept for the dissertation’s central methodological claim: the need to move beyond text and legal reasoning in understanding American constitutionalism.

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More About This Work

Academic Units
Political Science
Thesis Advisors
Urbinati, Nadia
Ph.D., Columbia University
Published Here
March 16, 2022