AALL Spectrum Blog


The AALL Spectrum® Blog is published by the American Association of Law Libraries. Submissions from AALL members and other members of the legal community are highly encouraged. Opinions and editorial views expressed are those of the authors and do not represent the official position of AALL. AALL does not assume any responsibility for statements advanced by contributors. The previous Spectrum Blog was located at aallspectrum.wordpress.com.
3/13/2015 6:42:02 PM

Review: Constitute, “The World’s Constitutions to Read, Search, and Compare”

Constitute (https://www.constituteproject.org/) is a free website developed by the Comparative Constitutions Project, which is based at the University of Texas at Austin. It contains 194 constitutions that are accessible three ways: from an A-Z list, a full-text search, or selecting from a list of topics.

A useful feature is the ability to compare two or more nations’ constitutions by topic. To do so, click on the Compare button next to the applicable nations on the A-Z list and click on the Compare icon in the left frame of the screen. The texts of the constitutions will display side by side. To compare provisions in specific areas, do a full-text search in the box under the Compare icon in the left frame, or select from a list of topics located below the search box.

Below is a comparison of U.S. and Japanese constitutional provisions on the topic Rights and Duties/Legal Procedural Rights/Protection from Self-incrimination:

To find which nations’ constitutions address particular areas, be sure you’re in the List view (as opposed to Compare view) before using the search box or topics outline. A sample topic selection, Culture and Identity/Citizenship/Requirements for Naturalization shows that 118 constitutions have relevant provisions.

If you wish to preserve your search results, you can click on the pin icon near the top of the page, then click on the Pinned icon in the left frame, and then export to Google Docs, download as a PDF, or save as a .csv file. It appears that once you’ve pinned your search results you must take any of the above actions before closing your tab or window, as I saw no option for creating an account that would enable saving your results. Also, I discovered that my pinned search was gone once I closed the page and then returned, so the site doesn’t remember IP addresses.

While I enjoyed exploring Constitute, I encountered a couple of issues that would concern me if I were relying on it for research:

1.  When comparing the U.S. and Japanese constitutions, I clicked through the topic menu Rights and Duties/Legal Procedural Rights/Due Process. The one U.S. match was the 5th Amendment, but the 14th Amendment also contains the phrase “due process.”

2.  On the bottom left of Constitute’s main page there is a box that contains teasers of the site’s content. One was “Scotland, Catalunya, Who’s Next? 22 constitutions contain provisions on secession. Click here to see which.” When I clicked, I was directed to a search result list of the 22 nations, and the full-text box was populated with the phrase “secession of territory.” However, when I did a separate full-text search for just “secession,” I got 11 results that didn’t overlap. A search algorithm expert may know why this is, but I expect most users won't.

Posted By Colleen Williams at 3/13/2015 6:42:02 PM  0 Comments
6/9/2014 9:14:41 PM

Spring Issue of FCIL Newsletter Available

The Spring 2014 issue of the FCIL Newsletter is out now!  In it you'll find a really great story by Teresa Miguel-Stearns and Lucie Olejnikova about how the FCIL Schaffer Grant positively impacts the U.S.  You'll also find a review of the ILRIG's program, Connecting the Dots: Visualizing International Law, which was presented at the ILA-ASIL Joint Biennial Conference, a comparison of a free MOOC and a fee-based certificate program for continuing education, and a lot of updates and chapter news.  You can find the newsletter here!

Posted By Kristen Moore at 6/9/2014 9:14:41 PM  0 Comments