Moving from the adoption of the post-Stalin Constitution of 1977 through its subsequent implementation under Brezhnev, Andropov, and Chernenko to the radical legal restructuring of the Gorbachev years, Robert Sharlet traces the gradual evolution of a nascent constitutionalism in the erstwhile USSR. Sharlet, a ted authority on Soviet law and constitutional development, demonstrates the gradual transformation of law from an instrument of Communist Party rule into the new rules of the game for nauthoritarian political development. In effect, he argues, one of Gorbachev's most durable achievements may be his redefinition of Soviet politics into a legal idiom along with his relocation of policymaking from behind the closed doors of Party conclaves into the more open, emergent arena of constitutional government. In analyzing the politics of law from the Brezhnev era to the rise of Yeltsin, the author takes account of the war of laws , the symbolic uses of the Soviet constitution, and even the fact that the leaders of the failed coup attempted to justify their seizure of power on constitutional grounds. Constitutionalism has sufficiently suffused Soviet public life, the book concludes, that most of the sovereign republics as successors to the former USSR, have begun designing their futures - to varying degrees - in constitutional forms.