NAFTA Chapter 11 as Supraconstitution

Stepan Wood, Stephen Clarkson

Research output: Working paper


More and more legal scholars are turning to constitutional law to make sense of the growth of transnational and international legal orders. They often employ constitutional terminology loosely, in a bewildering variety of ways, with little effort to clarify their analytical frameworks or acknowledge the normative presuppositions embedded in their analysis. The potential of constitutional analysis as an instrument of critique of transnational legal orders is frequently lost in methodological confusion and normative controversy. An effort at clarification is necessary. We propose a functional approach to supraconstitutional analysis that applies across issue areas, accommodates variation in kinds and degrees of supraconstitutionalization, recognizes its simultaneously domestic and transnational character, and reflects its uneven incidence and impacts. We apply this framework to NAFTA to consider whether and how it superimposes a supraconstitutional legal order on member states' domestic constitutional orders. We show that the main thrust of this contemporary supraconstitutional project is to restructure state and international political forms to promote market efficiency and discipline, enable free capital movement, confer privileged rights of citizenship and representation on corporate capital, insulate key aspects of the economy from state interference, and constrain democratic decision-making.

Original languageUndefined/Unknown
Publication statusPublished - Jan 1 2009

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