Constitutional Duties

The idea that citizens possess duties, in addition to rights, appears to be growing in popularity, with proponents on both the right and the left. In this Article, we show that duties for individuals have always been common in national constitutions. Today, no less than 64 percent of all constitutions include at least one duty; such as the duty to “respect the constitution,” “defend the country,” “protect the environment,” and “pay taxes.” We draw on original data that captures the historical trajectory of constitutional duties in national constitutions. We document the first instances of adoption, and their subsequent spread in constitutions globally. We also code what type of duties are most common, and how this has evolved over time. We find that, although legal scholarship has had relatively little to say about constitutional duties, they have long been part of a liberal constitutionalism. What is more, many courts in these countries have actually enforced constitutional duties.