BYU Law School is hosting a virtual book launch event today for Professor Justin Collings’ new book, Scales of Memory: Constitutional Justice and Historical Evil, published by Oxford University Press. According to OUP, the book:

  • “Explores how the constitutional courts in the United States, Germany, and South Africa have invoked slavery, Nazism, and apartheid – three historical evils – as an aid in constitutional interpretation
  • “Argues that courts tend to approach historic evil through one of two principal modes of memory: the redemptive mode and the parenthetical mode
  • “Examines how the memory of evil pasts moulds constitutional meaning in the contested present.”
Book cover image for Scales of Memory by Professor Justin Collings

It sounds fascinating. We have a print copy in the library and an ebook copy in Oxford Scholarship Online.

It got me thinking about researching comparative constitutional law. What is comparative constitutional law? Comparative constitutional law is the study of constitution making, structure, and interpretation across the globe. It examines how constitutions deal with issues of human rights, democracy, federalism, and national identity and considers political and social movements.

It is an interesting field but difficult for law students to engage in simply because it is so large and students’ time so limited. Nevertheless, law students can write great papers on comparative constitutional law provided they budget enough time for the research and reading and choose a narrow topic. Here are some research tools that can help:

Methodology and Background


World Constitutions

  • Oxford Constitutions of the World: English translations of all constitutions from throughout the world plus historical versions and commentary.
  • World Constitutions Illustrated (HeinOnline): Current constitutions for every country with English translations (multiple versions of translations when available for comparison), plus constitutional histories and thousands of articles and books.

Historical Perspectives