Article Title

Don't Copy Me, Argentina: Constitutional Borrowing and Rhetorical Type

Publication Title

Washington University Global Studies Law Review


Part I of this Article concerns the relationship between rhetoric and law, outlining the classical distinction between the forensic and deliberative modes of rhetoric. Part II describes the basic vision of Juan Bautista Alberdi, the father of Argentine constitutionalism. Part III discusses how Alberdi’s proposed constitutional ideas, borrowed heavily from the Constitution of the United States, influenced the text of Argentina’s Constitution of 1853. Part IV examines the subsequent debate between Alberdi and his contemporary and associate, Domingo Faustino Sarmiento, to illustrate how their different rhetorical modes resulted in differing interpretations of the Argentine Constitution. Part V offers some thoughts on rhetorical problems inherent in the interpretation of borrowed constitutions. My stance, essentially Hegelian, is that the rhetorical muddles presented by borrowed constitutions are unavoidable, placing on borrowers and their descendants the added obligation to link the borrowed text to a surrounding culture of constitutionalism.