Social Movement and Constitutional Change: The Case of America and China

The major challenge that the theory of constitutional change in contemporary United States faces is social movement, and its core concern is to balance and maintain legal and political authorities of the Constitution through interpretation. At the descriptive level, the thoughts of liberal scholars who criticized the theory of originalism restored the true colors of social movement in acting on judicial interpretation of the Constitution in individual cases. At the prescriptive level, social movement is burdened with the “original sin” of political factions. During the Cold War period, pluralist theory linked social movement with the value of democracy, and began to accept its constitutional status. Moreover, both the pluralists and republicans put forward different schemes in response. This paper will also address how these theories can inform our understanding of social movements and constitutional change in China.