From Constitutional Idolatry to Constitutional Engagement: The Role of Literacy

The current tumultuous state of constitutional democracy has brought forward some essential questions about the relationship between States and citizens. One of these surrounds the significance of constitutional literacy within contemporary democracies, and involves several elements. Firstly, what is meant by constitutional literacy, and do surveys of citizen knowledge adequately capture the level of awareness or interest regarding constitutional arrangements ? Secondly, if constitutions are seen primarily as legal documents that employ top-down approaches to meaning via supreme or constitutional courts, then what should we expect from citizens in relation to constitutional literacy? Finally, how can citizen knowledge and engagement regarding constitutional literacy efforts be improved? While we believe an attitude of idolatry has not done the constitutional project much good, we suggest that the idea of constitutional engagement may prove more beneficial to future democratic health.