Introductory Essay

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Toward the Reorganization and Consolidation of the Text of the Constitution of the United Mexican States of 1917.
Introductory Essay

    Summary: I. Preamble. II. The Dynamics of Constitutional Reform in Mexico. III. A Brief Analysis of the Current Constitutional Text.
    IV. Toward the Reorganization and Consolidation of the Constitutional Text: Criteria and Methodology. V. Proposal for a Constitutional Development Law.

I. Preamble
The purpose of this essay is to examine the possibility, the conditions and the methodology for a technical and juridical revision of the current text of the Political Constitution of the United Mexican States (hereafter referred to as the “PCUMS” or “the Constitution”) by rearranging and consolidating it.

The starting point of the study is the premise that, while the Constitution has been significantly updated and modernized, such that its current text already incorporates the principal elements and institutions of contemporary constitutionalism, it is also true that the continuous reforms and additions that it has undergone have resulted in a text that is increasingly longer and disorganized, unsystematic and neglected from a technical point of view. As a result, it is evident that the current dynamics of amending the constitutional text has reached its limits; thus, it is imperative to find other options that would give it stability and viability.

In view of the preceding remarks, this study explains and justifies a revision of the constitutional text that, without affecting the political decisions that it incorporates or its legal expression, will restore its formal and technical qualities, allowing a better understanding and management of the Constitution, which, in turn, should result in a more solid and stable constitutional culture. The approaching centennial of the Constitution of 1917 provides a welcome opportunity to undertake this ambitious project.

This study is divided into four sections. The first (II., infra) offers a brief description of the dynamics of reforms to the PCUMS text up to the present. The second (III., infra) presents a synthesized diagnosis of the problems and defects existing in the text now in force. The third (IV., infra) describes the methodology that is proposed for the reorganization and consolidation of the new constitutional text. The fourth (V., infra) explains a proposal that is designed to be a part of the effort to reorganize and consolidate the constitutional text: the creation of a Constitutional Development Law (hereinafter CDL) that can incorporate many of the regulatory-type provisions that are now in the PCUMS and which are the ones that most frequently have been changed in their content and length. While this appears to be an innovative mechanism, it is not without precedent in our own constitutional history and has also been widely employed in various countries.

II. The Dynamics of Constitutional Reform in Mexico
A partir de 1921, en que se hizo la primera modificación, hasta el 10 de julio de 2015, el texto de la CPEUM ha sufrido 642 cambios a través de 225 decretos de reforma constitucional. 1 The table below summarizes the number of changes to the constitutional text, showing the number per each administration up through the date given. 2 The table also reflects the relative percentage of changes per period of government, the number of decrees issued within each period, and the length, in words, of the constitutional text at the end of each of the periods, beginning in 1970:

Table 1
Constitutional reforms per administration
(1921-July 10, 2015)

President Period
Decres Length
Álvaro Obregón 1920-1924 8 1.2 2
Plutarco Elías Calles 1924-1928 18 2.8 5
Emilio Portes Gil
Pascual Ortiz Rubio
Abelardo Rodríguez




Lázaro Cárdenas 1934-1940 15 2.3 10
Manuel Ávila Camacho 1940-1946 18 2.8 10
Miguel Alemán 1946-1952 20 3.1 13
Adolfo Ruiz Cortines 1952-1958 2 0.3 1
Adolfo López Mateos 1958-1964 11 1.7 9
Gustavo Díaz Ordaz 1964-1970 19 3.0 8 27,638
Luis Echeverría 1970-1976 40 6.2 14 28,532 + 864
José López Portillo 1976-1982 34 5.3 14 29,938 + 1,406
Miguel de la Madrid 1982-1988 66 10.3 19 34,916 + 4,978
Carlos Salinas de Gortari 1988-1994 55 8.6 15 36,856 + 1,940
Ernesto Zedillo 1994-2000 77 12.0 18 42,802 + 5,946
Vicente Fox 2000-2006 31 4.8 17 45,365 + 2,653
Felipe Calderón 2006-2012 110 17.2 38 54,815 + 9,450
Enrique Peña Nieto 2012-2015 90 14.0 20 66,073 + 11,258
Total 642 100.0 225
SOURCE: Figures prepared with data from Mexico’s Chamber of Deputies: <>.

NOTE: Each six-year term begins on the 1st of December of one year and ends on the 30th of November of the sixth year. The column on “length” refers to the length of the articles of the constitutional text, measured in words, at the end of the corresponding period and does not include the preamble or the transitory articles.

As can be easily seen in Table 1, the rate of reforms accelerates considerably in the latter administrations. However, it is 1982, when the De la Madrid presidency begins, that can be considered the turning point, because that is the beginning of a reform process that lasts until the present and in which there is an important renovation of existing institutions and the creation of many others that modernize and update our constitutional set of laws. In general terms, the changes have pointed toward strengthening the Legislative and Judicial branches vis-à-vis the Executive, the rights of citizens and the means for their protection, as well as the mechanisms for governmental accountability and for the responsibility of public officials. In particular, the Constitution has been reformed in the following areas:

  1. Judicial review of legislation
  2. Autonomy of municipalities
  3. Electoral and representative system (federal and local)
  4. Fundamental rights, individual as well as social, and instruments of protection
  5. Rights and autonomy of indigenous peoples
  6. Agrarian property and justice
  7. Transparency and access to governmental information
  8. Criminal justice and public security
  9. Budget, control of public expenditures and accountability
  10. Relations between the State and the churches and religious communities
  11. Judicial independence and governance
  12. National development and democratic planning
  13. Energy resources and productive State enterprises

Within the framework of these reforms, new institutions have been introduced and many existing institutions have been intensively reformed: 3

  1. Creation of the “autonomous constitutional bodies,” such as the National Human Rights Commission (1992-1999), the Bank of Mexico (1993), the National Electoral Institute (1996-2007-2014), the National Institute of Statistics and Geography (2005), the National Institute for the Evaluation of Education, the Federal Economic Competition Commission, the Federal Telecommunications Institute, the National Council for Evaluation of Social Development Policy (2013), and the Federal Institute for Access to Information and Protection of Personal Data (2014).
  2. New composition of the Supreme Court of Justice of the Nation and expansion and specialization of its powers of constitutional control (1987-1994-1996-1999).
  3. Creation of the Federal Judicial Council as a the body charged with the administration and governance of the Federal Judiciary (1995-1999).
  4. Creation of the Superior Audit Office as an entity of the Chamber of Deputies of the Mexican Congress with technical autonomy for the auditing and performance evaluation of public authorities (1999-2009-2015).
  5. Creation of the federal electoral jurisdiction (1987-1990-1993-1996-2007).
  6. Creation of the agrarian tribunals (1992).
  7. Creation of a specialized juvenile jurisdiction (2005-2015).
  8. Recognition and constitutional regulation of the agencies for the protection of human rights, for electoral matters, and for transparency and public access to public government information (1992-1996-2007-2014).

This change in direction that began in 1982 is also reflected in the quantitative data. Almost two thirds (66.9 percent) of the modifications and more than half (56.4 percent) of the decrees have been passed after December 1982. The new dynamics is also reflected in the growth of the constitutional text, as measured by the number of words. The original text of the 1917 Constitution contained around 21 thousand words. 4 In 1982, 65 years later, at the end of the administration of President López Portillo, the text had grown by 42.6 percent, reaching nearly 30 thousand words. With President De la Madrid, a much faster expansion begins as a result of a more intense constitutional modernization, which becomes brisk with Presidents Calderón and Peña Nieto. During the Calderón and Peña Nieto administrations the text increases by more than 20 thousand words, a number nearly equal to the length of the original document. In sum: up to July 10, 2015 the current text of our Constitution contained more than three times the number of words in the Constitution enacted on February 5, 1917.

It could be argued that the length, by itself, is not really a problem. Comparative law can point to numerous examples of very long constitutions. The most obvious is India’s Constitution, which has more than 100 thousand words, 5 and scholars also mention the 1921 Constitution of the State of Louisiana, which once reached more than 250 thousand words until it was replaced in 1974. 6 Recent constitutions in some Latin American countries such as Brazil (1988), Colombia (1991), Venezuela (1999), Ecuador (2008) and Bolivia (2009) are fairly long texts, with lengths between 40 and 50 thousand words. According to some scholars, these constitutions represent a “new Latin American constitutionalism”. A salient feature of these constitutions is precisely their very extensive and detailed texts, the purpose being that the people, in exercise of their constituent power, spell out clearly all the rules that the constituted powers, including constitutional judges, must strictly follow. 7

Regardless of whether the arguments supporting a lengthy and detailed constitutional text are or are not persuasive, the problem of the 1917 Constitution lies more, as was already pointed out, in the lack of order and system of the present text. However, one has to consider also and above all that the accelerated dynamics of constitutional reform is not subsiding, so it is very likely that forthcoming changes will add to the current length of the constitutional text. Nothing suggests, therefore, that constitutional reform will stop in the near future. In contrast with past periods, when constitutional reform was substantially a product of the more or less unilateral decision of the President, at present it is political parties who dominate the constitutional amendment process. They have strong incentives for including their political agreements to the last detail in the constitutional text, in order to put them beyond the reach of ordinary legislation, as well as outside the scope of judicial review. Nevertheless, these agreements are not always permanent, but are subject to revision in generally shorter periods, as is well illustrated by the electoral system.

The solution to this problem is not, of course, to keep political forces from reaching agreements, which is one of the central, everyday elements of any democracy, nor is it to prevent them from designing legal rules that provide the political process with certainty and stability. Moreover, the more or less detailed inclusion of political agreements in a constitutional text is one of the factors that contribute to the longevity of a Constitution. 8 Therefore, the issue here is about finding a mechanism to achieve these same results but without such frequent changes to the text of the Constitution and without the risk of altering the constitutional foundations of public institutions. This would be achieved by coordinating the reorganized and consolidated text of the Constitution with a Constitutional Development Law (CDL) that could be revised and updated as frequently as required by political circumstances within the framework of basic decisions already found in the Fundamental Law. 9

Lastly, it is worth noting that an exercise of technical revision and consolidation of constitutional texts has numerous precedents in comparative constitutional law. Among the most significant of recent years, one can cite the Constitution of the Swiss Confederation (Switzerland) of 1999-2000, which was the result of a review process that lasted several years, with purposes and methods similar to those explained here. In 1987, the Federal Parliament instructed the Federal Government to develop an updated constitutional text subject to the following guidelines: “The project will update the existing constitutional law, written and unwritten; it will present it in a comprehensible manner; it will systematically organize it, and it will unify the language and regulatory density of the individualized precepts.” 10 The novelty of our proposal is in the joining of the revised constitutional text with a law or laws on constitutional development.

III. A Brief Analysis of the Current Constitutional Text
This section describes, with no intent of being exhaustive, some of the formal and technical defects that the on-going reform process has introduced in the operative constitutional text. As stated earlier, the reforms and additions have caused a noticeable disorder and lack of a technique and systematic quality in the topics that are regulated in the various constitutional articles. In most cases the errors are not serious and they could be corrected through interpretation, but the creation of a revised text should correct both serious and less serious errors. Some of these defects and errors are described here:

  1. Duplicated provisions
    Duplicated provisions are incorporated in various parts of the constitutional text. That is, they are repeated in other parts of the Constitution. For example, among the requirements to hold various public posts, such as that of a federal deputy or President of the Republic, the restriction that a person cannot be a minister of any religious creed is restated, while the text of Article 130 already establishes, in a general way, that ministers of religious creeds cannot occupy public posts, including those filled by popular election, unless they resign from the clergy within the five-year period prescribed by the law. It is clear that the general provision in Article 130 and a systematic understanding of the constitutional text would suffice to resolve this matter, even though the restatement of this requirement in other provisions could be explained by both historical reasons and a lack of systematic elaboration within the amending process.
  2. Variable and inconsistent use of terminology
    In this section one can mention, for example, that the constitutional text uses both the concept of “human rights” (Article 1) as well as that of “fundamental rights” (for example, Article 18), although they are not equivalent. 11 Likewise, one can contrast the advanced terminology regarding human rights that is employed in Article 1, as a result of the June 2011 reform, with many of the rights consecrated in Title One, which continue to use archaic expressions from the 19th century and the early 20th century. Moreover, there are provisions that use terms that are understood in the historical context of their inclusion in the constitutional text, but which are inappropriate today. Thus, Article 11 refers to the limitations in the liberty of travel that can be imposed on “pernicious foreigners who reside in the country,” something that was understandable in the nationalist and xenophobic environment of 1917, but improper in a contemporary constitutional text.
  3. Disparity in the scope and depth of constitutional provisions
    A noticeable defect in the constitutional text is the inconsistency, due to excess or error, in the regulation of several institutions, even those of a similar nature. One can find notable differences in the scope and depth of constitutional provisions regarding the so-called “autonomous constitutional bodies” (for example, compare the regulation of the Bank of Mexico with that of the new Federal Institute of Telecommunications, both in Article 28), but also in those of the different jurisdictional branches provided for in the Constitution. While the composition, jurisdiction and functions of the Electoral Court of the Federal Judiciary take up a whole article (Article 99) that runs to more than a thousand words in length, the provisions on labor tribunals (Article 123, section A) or military courts (Article 13) cover only a few lines. This is but a reflection of the different periods when these provisions were introduced. The Conciliation and Arbitration Boards are a creation of the Constituent Congress of 1917; the provision regarding the military courts originates in both the Constitution of 1857 and in the original text of 1917, while the current Article 99 is a result of the reforms – agreed to by the national political parties – in 1996, 2007 and 2014.
  4. Disorder and lack of system in subjects regulated by the constitutional articles.
    Idealmente, cada artículo constitucional tendría que abordar de manera ordenada y completa Ideally, each constitutional article should address a subject matter in an orderly and complete manner. Although in each reform the intent has been to incorporate the additions in similar articles, the set of modifications does not abide by such logic, such that, just as there are articles that encompass disparate topics (for example, Article 94 regarding the integration of the Federal Judiciary), there are others that break up common subjects that could be grouped in a single article (for example, Article 57, regarding alternates for Senate seats, with a length of two lines, could be incorporated to Article 56, which refers to the composition of the Senate). It bears repeating that this defect is a result of the accumulation of modifications up until now, and in none of them has the decision been made to revise the constitutional text as a whole.
    Following are two more examples of the problems. Article 41, with 63 words in the original 1917 text, is now the longest article in the Constitution, with more than 4 thousand words, and it contains at least three topics that could and should be regulated in different provisions: elections and electoral campaigns; electoral institutes and their functions, and the constitutional set of rules applicable to political parties. The second example is that of Article 18, which substantially regulates the penitentiary system, but to which the justice system for adolescents has been added. This is ironical if not contradictory, because the special justice system designed for adolescents in fact seeks to keep them from coming into contact with the ordinary penal system. In this case, there was not even any attempt to try to separate the two topics into different sections.
  5. Deficient placement of constitutional provisions
    Another noticeable defect in the constitutional text is the presence of provisions that are not only poorly placed within an article or a section, but are also misplaced in the chapter or even the title to which they were assigned. The best example of this is constitutional Article 102, which regulates the Federal Attorney General and the Public Prosecutor’s Office (section A), as well as the ombudsmen for human rights (section B). Neither section, particularly the first one, seems to be appropriately located in the chapter regarding the Federal Judiciary.
    In the case of the Federal Attorney General and the Public Prosecutor’s Office, there is a historical reason for their placement in that article: that office was part of the Judiciary during all of the 19th century, but a reform in 1900 moved it to the Executive branch, following the French model. The error was not corrected in the 1917 Constitution. As for the ombudsmen for human rights, their placement in this article is not completely misguided because of their quasi-judicial nature, but it is not optimal either.
    It is worth noting that Title One, Chapter One of the Constitution, which contains the declaration of human rights that is known as the “dogmatic part,” includes numerous provisions of the “organic” type that belong traditionally to the second part of the Constitution, for it contains the regulations that govern various autonomous agencies, including the National Institute for the Evaluation of Education, the National Institute for Access to Public Information and Protection of Personal Data, the National Institute of Statistics and Geography, the Bank of Mexico, the Federal Commission on Economic Competition, and the Federal Telecommunications Institute. Although some of these bodies are conceived of as “guarantors” or protectors of some human rights, a better constitutional technique would place them in other constitutional sections.
  6. Updating errors.
    Occasionally, the changes in the constitutional text have not always been carefully updated across all the significant provisions. Thus, for example, one can still find in the current text the phrase “Head of the Federal District” (Articles 73, section VIII, and 76, section IX), when the correct wording is “Head of Government of the Federal District.” Likewise, “Assembly of Representatives of the Federal District” (Articles 73, section VIII, and 105, section II, subsection e), which now is titled “Legislative Assembly of the Federal District.” These are not mistakes with major consequences, but they indicate a lack of care in the process of constitutional amendment.
  7. Regulatory articles
    Perhaps the most obvious problem in the constitutional text is the constant increase in its length, as has been documented in the previous section, reaching dimensions of provisions that are, strictly speaking, regulations. In this regard, some articles that are especially noticeable can be singled out, although they are not the only ones: Articles 2 (rights of indigenous peoples), 3 (education), 16 (due process of law), 20 (criminal procedure), 27 (authority of the nation over natural resources and agrarian property), 28 (central bank, strategic economic sectors, economic competition, and telecommunications), 41 (political parties, electoral institutions and processes), 79 (government’s auditing), 99 (Electoral Court of the Federal Judiciary), 105 (constitutional controversies and actions of unconstitutionality), 107 (amparo suit), 115 (municipalities), 116 (organization of the States), 122 (Federal District), and 123 (workers’ rights).

These articles seem to have in common the development of true government programs and the design of authentic public policies, more than simply establishing the essential constitutional guidelines that make them possible, so it is no surprise that any change in political priorities ends up requiring a formal constitutional amendment. Public policies are much more dynamic and variable than the constitutional text, which is why is it not advisable to place them in the document. Other articles also include many provisions that properly belong to ordinary legislation. Article 20 of the Constitution, which addresses guarantees in the penal process, has become a true Code of Penal Procedure, rather than simply mentioning and defining the principles governing the criminal process, as well as the rights of defendants or of victims of crime.

These examples of defects in the constitutional text, and many others that could be cited here, can be corrected through the criteria and methodology that are presented in the next section.

IV. Toward the Reorganization and Consolidation of the Constitutional Text: Criteria and Methodology
This section briefly develops a specific proposal to first reorganize and then consolidate the existing text of the 1917 Constitution. What would be the key guidelines for such a revision of the constitutional text? Below are the criteria and key steps, which are already contained in the reorganized and consolidated constitutional text, as well as in the proposed Constitutional Development Law that are attached to this introductory study.

  1. The same Constitution of 1917
    It is of the utmost importance to point out, from the beginning, that the text that results from the proposed exercise of reorganization and consolidation will be the same existing Constitution. We do not propose to change any of the political and legal decisions contained in the current text, even if we consider them to be mistaken or inappropriate, nor do we suggest introducing any other modifications that we might deem necessary or favorable. The purpose is simply to revise and optimize the existing text. 12 There is no intent at all to generate an “ideal” constitutional text. Any proposals for new constitutional reforms belong in the public and legislative debate, and our project is not incompatible with them. The only significant additions that we do propose are a brief Preamble that, like constitutional texts of other nations, summarizes the ideology behind the Mexican Constituent Power, and a paragraph in the new Article 71 to make possible the issuance of “constitutional development laws,” as explained in the following section.

    In addition, it is planned to preserve, as all the constitutional reform decrees have done until now, the total number of articles of the text (136), without adding to or reducing them, based on the conviction that it is possible to redistribute all the regulated matters in a more balanced way into the existing articles. Moreover, it is advisable to respect the current placement of the articles that are emblematic of the Constitution, although that may not be the best from a technical point of view. Those articles so considered are the following: 1st (protective scope of the Constitution and human rights); 3rd (education); 14th and 16th (due process of law); 20th (guarantees in criminal procedure); 27th (direct domain of the nation over land and waters and agrarian property); 103rd and 107th (amparo suit); 115th (municipal autonomy); 123rd (workers’ rights); and 130th (separation between the State and religious associations).

  2. Reorganization
    Reorganization implies relocating the constitutional provisions in the article, section, subsection or paragraph that is most appropriate from a systematic and technical point of view and without altering its composition, except to correct obvious errors.

    To this end, a four-column, comparative table was developed (not included with this study). The first column contains the current constitutional text; all the paragraphs were numbered sequentially, including sections and subsections. The second column contains the paragraphs that it was determined should be repositioned (for example, the “organic” provisions of Title One, Chapter One, were removed to a new chapter), leaving the numbering unchanged, so that the reader can always know the origin of the relocated paragraphs and thus evaluate the suitability of the change. This exercise offers a text not yet assembled or refined, but which already clearly shows the advantage of the proposed changes.
  3. Consolidation
    The refined and consolidated text is shown in the third column. This text underwent various changes: the punctuation and composition are improved; in some cases the content is synthesized to eliminate redundancies and inconsistencies; the reorganized paragraphs are assembled; there is an improvement in the systematic presentation of paragraphs, sections and subsections; and the content of the parts that have been deemed “regulatory” were transferred to the proposed Constitutional Development Law, to be explained in the next section. For that purpose, the following criteria, among others, were followed:
    1. Always preserve in the constitutional text the principles establishing people’s rights, as well as their restrictions and exceptions.
    2. Maintain the method of selection or appointment, as well as the powers, of the nation’s three branches of government, transferring to the LCD only matters of procedure (for example, the formula for the allocation of deputies chosen by proportional election.)
    3. As for the so-called “autonomous constitutional bodies,” establish only the body’s name, purpose and main powers, but delegate to Congress the power to provide for their composition, nomination, substitution, incompatibilities and responsibility of their members (which have been and will also continue to be an object of frequent change).
    4. Transfer to the CDL the provisions that explain or specify constitutional principles (for example, those derived from the new criminal accusatorial proceedings), those which formulate public policies in the strict sense (such as those related to indigenous communities), or those which establish detailed procedures or exceptions, with variables subject to constant modification, such as deadlines, percentages, dates, et cetera (for example, seizure of assets of criminal organizations), but always maintaining a constitutional basis from which new legislative regulation can be derived.
  4. Explanation
    In the fourth column of the comparative table, a detailed explanation is given of the proposed changes in placement and editing; also presented is any text that is to be deleted or that which is proposed to be transferred to the CDL.

V. Proposal for a Constitutional Development Law
In order for the proposal of reorganization and consolidation of the current constitutional text to be feasible and to allow for a new dynamics in the constitutional reform process, characterized by higher technical care and greater stability, the adoption of a Constitutional Development Law (CDL) is being proposed as a concomitant and necessary change.

This is not a new proposal. It should be remembered that in 1847 (during the war with the United States), in his famous dissenting opinion that would essentially become the Reform Act for the Federal Constitution of 1824 (see Appendix), Mariano Otero proposed the creation of “constitutional laws” to regulate matters related to the rights of man and citizen, elections, freedom of the press and the National Guard, among other subjects. Those laws could not “be altered or repealed within a period of six months between the submission of the bill and its discussion” (Article 20 of the Vote and 27 of the Reform Act). In more recent years, Héctor Fix-Zamudio and other authors have also stressed the importance of introducing in our legal system “organic laws” (as they are called in Spain, for example) or “constitutional laws,” such as the laws of development of constitutional precepts, in order to modify the current regulatory trends in the process of amending the constitutional text. 13 The so-called “constitutional organic laws,” “constitutional laws” or “constitutional development laws,” are laws that require a special voting majority that lies between the one needed to pass ordinary laws and that required for a constitutional reform. These are laws that in principle are more rigid than ordinary laws, but less so than the constitutional text, because the reform of the constitutional text requires, in our legal system, the participation of state congresses and the approval of a majority thereof.

The proposal developed here still requires the determination of some secondary aspects, but its essential elements, which are explained below, are now defined. While there already exists a multiplicity of laws in our legal system with some of the features of “constitutional development laws”, and it is usually the Constitution that defines the subject or subjects that those laws will regulate, our proposal recommends the approval of a single law entitled Constitutional Development Law. From the point of view of terminology, this title is preferable to the alternative name of “organic laws,” which has a precise connotation in our legal system to refer those laws that regulate the organization and operation of the branches of government and other public bodies, and to the phrase “constitutional laws,” that has, on the other hand, the disadvantage that the category does not exist as a special type of laws, but only as a term opposed to that of “unconstitutional laws.” It is recommended that it be a single law because, even if the proposal refers in the plural to “constitutional development laws,” it is advisable not to multiply these laws but to identify, whenever possible, a single one that brings together those provisions that are more closely linked to constitutional matters, given that they constitute direct derivations thereof.

The proposal thus entails a change in what is currently Article 71 of the Constitution, concerning the introduction of legislative bills to the Congress of the Union, in the following terms:

Congress may enact legislation to develop the content of constitutional laws. These laws may be introduced in either Chamber and their approval shall require the favorable vote of two- thirds of the members present in each Chamber. The President of the Republic may not formulate observations in relation to these constitutional development laws. Before their publication, the President of the Congress shall consult with the Supreme Court of Justice of the Nation on the constitutionality of said law. The Supreme Court must rule within 30 calendar days.

As can be seen, this is about one or more laws that are passed by a special vote, with a majority greater than that required for ordinary laws, but less than the requirements for the constitutional reform. Additionally, it requires a prior opinion on its constitutionality by the Supreme Court of Justice. This seems to be necessary, on the one hand, because, as an extension of constitutional matter, the CDL has to have always a foundation in the Constitution. On other hand, it is a convenient, politically speaking, because this may give constitutional certainty to the agreements reached by the political parties and other relevant political actors.

The first CDL should be passed simultaneously with the constitutional text resulting from the exercise of reorganization and consolidation, by means of the voting and the procedure specified in Article 135 of the Constitution. Future reforms by the Congress of the Union shall require only the approval by two-thirds of the members present in their Chambers, as well as the favorable opinion of the Supreme Court of Justice. The President of the Republic may not veto these laws, for the same reason that he does not the power to do so with constitutional amendments, and because the majority required for passing constitutional development laws is already equal to the one needed to override a presidential veto. It shall also be established that constitutional development laws may not be the object of a “preferential bill”, i.e., a bill introduced at the beginning of a legislative session by the President and that must be passed or rejected within a short, mandatory period, because they have to do with laws that are part of the “constitutional block”, along with the Constitution itself.

In terms of its content, it has been pointed out that the CDL will consist of all those provisions that, as a result of the exercise of reorganization and consolidation referred to in the previous section, are not considered essential to retain in the constitutional text. It is still required to define the specific technical details of its incorporation to the Law, but even now it is evident that the various parts that conform it should be amendable independently of each other, depending on the subject matter in question, so that the process of disorder and lack of system that has characterized the reform of the Constitution until now does not happen again.

Comparative Table
Length of the current constitutional text and of the reorganized and consolidated text (as of July 10, 2015)

Title Articles Current Reorganized/
First 1-38 21,682 16,063 -5,619 -25.9
Second 39-48 4,570 3,145 -1,425 -31.2
Third 49-107 22,586 18,466 -4,120 -18.2
Fourth 108-114 2,838 2,195 -643 -22.6
Fifth 115-122 8,786 4,128 -4,658 -53
Sixth 123 3,685 3,315 -370 -10.0
Seventh 124-134 1,841 1,419 -422 -22.9
Eighth 135 92 92 -- --
Nineth 136 85 85 -- --
Total 66,165 48,910 17,255 -26.1
Note: Estimated number of words in articles of the Constitution.

1 There are several ways to estimate the number of changes to the constitutional text (reforms and additions). In this study a reform (or addition) is counted in terms of the changes to one constitutional article by way of one reform decree; that is, a decree can contain several modifications to a single article that are counted as one single reform. It is the same way of counting that is used on the website of the Chamber of Deputies of the Mexican Congress: <>.
2 This does not mean that all reforms have been proposed by the President, or that all have been published during the proponent’s term of office, but given that the President has been and remains a major actor in the constitutional reform dynamics, it is appropriate to set the time period in that way.
3 The numbers in parentheses indicate the year of creation or of reform.
4 This number does not include the preamble or the transitory articles.
5 According to data from the English version of Wikisource, the Constitution of India is the world’s longest, containing 395 articles, 12 schedules and 117,369 words. See “Constitution of India” at <> (accessed April 29, 2015). The absolute record seems to belong to the Constitution of the State of Alabama, which is reportedly more than 340 thousand words long.
6 See Tarr, G. Alan, Comprendiendo las constituciones estatales, translation by Daniel A. Barceló Rojas, México, UNAM (Instituto de Investigaciones Jurídicas), 2009, p. 14. Professor Tarr notes that while the federal Constitution of the United States has a short length and has been reformed on rare occasions, the state constitutions are lengthy and are amended and replaced frequently, which makes them very similar to Latin American constitutions.
7 See Viciano Pastor, Roberto y Rubén Martínez Dalmau, ¿Se puede hablar de un nuevo constitucionalismo latinoamericano como corriente doctrinal sistematizada? Paper presented at the VIII World Congress of Constitutional Law, Mexico, December 6-10, 2010, available at <, accessed August 22, 2013.
8 See Elkins, Zachary, Tom Ginsburg y James Melton, The Endurance of National Constitutions, Cambridge-New York, Cambridge University Press, 2009.
9 Not addressed here is another option that for years has been proposed by one side of the Mexican doctrine, which is the adoption of a new constitutional text. As to the reasons working against this possibility, see Fix-Fierro, Héctor, “Hacia el centenario de la Constitución mexicana de 1917. Una reflexión a propósito de reformas, textos, modelos y culturas constitucionales,” in Carbonell, Miguel, Héctor Fix-Fierro, Luis Raúl González Pérez and Diego Valadés (eds.), Estado constitucional, derechos humanos, justicia y vida universitaria. Estudios en homenaje a Jorge Carpizo, México, UNAM (Instituto de Investigaciones Jurídicas), 2015, Tome IV, Vol. 1, pp. 702 and following.
10 Koller, Heinrich y Giovanni Biaggini, “La nueva Constitución Federal suiza. Una visión general de las novedades y los aspectos más destacados”, Teoría y Realidad Constitucional, Madrid, Nos. 10-11, 2002-2003, p. 612.
11 Until 2011, these two concepts used to coexist with the traditional term of “individual guarantees,” which was deemed inappropriate because in contemporary thinking the concept of “guarantee” is applicable to instruments, particularly procedural ones, which assure the effectiveness of rights, not to the degree to which they are recognized. The 2011 constitutional reform regarding human rights changed the name of Chapter One of Title One of the Constitution to “Of Human Rights and Their Guarantees,” which did not fully eliminate the confusion between these concepts.
12 Of course, the reorganization and the change in context of some provisions could be translated into new interpretations of a systematic type, but this addresses just one possibility that is difficult to evaluate at this point.
13 Fix-Zamudio, Héctor, “Hacia una nueva constitucionalidad. Necesidad de perfeccionar la reforma constitucional en el derecho mexicano. Las leyes orgánicas”, en Hacia una nueva constitucionalidad, México, UNAM, 1999, pp. 191-228. A more comprehensive and complete study is that by Sepúlveda, Ricardo, Las leyes orgánicas constitucionales, México, UNAM-Porrúa, 2006, with an introduction by Héctor Fix-Zamudio. A proposal similar to that which is developed here, with a reduced constitutional text and accompanied by one or two constitutional laws, is that by Pinto Muñoz, Jacinto Héctor, Prolegómenos a la teoría y la reforma constitucional, México, UNAM (Instituto de Investigaciones Jurídicas), 2010, pp. 267 and following, although the author believes that this exercise should be used to further refine the constitutional code of laws.