Can Rawls’s Case for Implicit Unamendability be Strengthened? Vertical Reciprocity and “Amending Legitimacy“

Against the backdrop of the current debate on “unconstitutional constitutional amendments” and implicit entrenchment, John Rawls’s defense, in Political Liberalism, of the implicit unamendability of the First Amendment of the Constitution of the United States is reconstructed.
Classed as a “teleological“ subtype of the “coherence-approaches“ to implicit unamendability, Rawls’s argument is then compared with other frameworks (mainly the “principal-delegate” approach) and its consistence with the paradigm of political liberalism is assessed.
Finally, an ameliorative version of Rawls’s case for the implicit entrenchment of constitutional essentials is argued to avoid intra-paradigmatic tensions by drawing on the notion of trans-temporal, “vertical” reciprocity among generations of citizens, and a “liberal principle of amending legitimacy“ is put forward.