Neither time nor place can cabin ideas. In 1987 Americans celebrated the 200th anniversary of their Constitution, and in 1991 they marked the bicentennial of their Bill of Rights. At just the same time - as if history were a creative choreographer - the peoples of central and eastern Europe were proving the resilience of old ideas about freedom, human dignity, and democracy. After living for so many years under oppressive one-party regimes, people in central and eastern Europe and the Soviet sphere now find themselves questing for choices long denied them.

New times require new constitutions. Nearly every country, even the most repressive, has a "constitution." We are all too familiar with constitutions (such as the Soviet Union's 1936 constitution) whose glowing promises of justice and human dignity have little relation to reality. Such documents must be discarded, and authentic constitutionalism planted in their place.

A. E. Dick Howard, How Ideas Travel: Rights at Home and Abroad, 22 Stetson Law Review, 893–905 (1993).