Tom Ginsburg and Aziz Huq - "How to Save a Constitutional Democracy" - William Howell

Tuesday, October 23, 2018 - 6:00pm - 7:00pm
Event Presenter/Author: 
Tom Ginsburg and Aziz Huq
 
Tom Ginsburg and Aziz Huq discuss How to Save a Constitutional Democracy. They will be joined in conversation by William Howell. A Q&A and signing will follow the event.
 
At the Co-op
 
RSVP HERE (Please note that your RSVP is requested but not required.)
 
About the book: Democracies are in danger. Around the world, a rising wave of populist leaders threatens to erode the core structures of democratic self rule. In the United States, the election of Donald Trump marked a decisive turning point for many. What kind of president calls the news media the “enemy of the American people,” or sees a moral equivalence between violent neo-Nazi protesters in paramilitary formation and residents of a college town defending the racial and ethnic diversity of their homes? Yet, whatever our concerns about the current president, we can be assured that the Constitution offers safeguards to protect against lasting damage—or can we?
 
How to Save a Constitutional Democracy mounts an urgent argument that we can no longer afford to be complacent. Drawing on a rich array of other countries’ experiences with democratic backsliding, Tom Ginsburg and Aziz Z. Huq show how constitutional rules can either hinder or hasten the decline of democratic institutions. The checks and balances of the federal government, a robust civil society and media, and individual rights—such as those enshrined in the First Amendment—do not necessarily succeed as bulwarks against democratic decline. Rather, Ginsburg and Huq contend, the sobering reality for the United States is that, to a much greater extent than is commonly realized, the Constitution’s design makes democratic erosion more, not less, likely. Its structural rigidity has had the unforeseen consequence of empowering the Supreme Court to fill in some details—often with doctrines that ultimately facilitate rather than inhibit the infringement of rights. Even the bright spots in the Constitution—the First Amendment, for example—may have perverse consequences in the hands of a deft communicator, who can degrade the public sphere by wielding hateful language that would be banned in many other democracies. But we—and the rest of the world—can do better. The authors conclude by laying out practical steps for how laws and constitutional design can play a more positive role in managing the risk of democratic decline.
 
About the authors: Tom Ginsburg is the Leo Spitz Professor of International Law at the University of Chicago, where he also holds an appointment in the Political Science Department. He holds B.A., J.D. and Ph.D. degrees from the University of California at Berkeley. He currently co-directs the Comparative Constitutions Project, an NSF-funded data set cataloging the world’s constitutions since 1789, and is the author or editor of over 20 books, including Judicial Reputation: A Comparative Theory (2015) (with Nuno Garoupa) and The Endurance of National Constitutions (2009) (with Zachary Elkins and James Melton). He currently serves a senior advisor on Constitution Building to International IDEA.
 
Aziz Huq is the Frank and Bernice J. Greenberg Professor of Law at the University of Chicago Law School, where he teaches and writes on constitutional law, national security law, and criminal procedure. He is a cooperating counsel with Muslim Advocates and the ACLU of Illinois on challenges to discriminatory policing and immigration policies. Before starting teaching, he clerked for Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, ran the Brennan Center’s Liberty and National Security project, and worked for the International Crisis Group in South Asia and Afghanistan.
 
About the interlocutor: William Howell is the Sydney Stein Professor in American Politics at the University of Chicago Harris School of Public Policy and a professor in the Department of Political Science and the College. He has written widely on separation-of-powers issues and American political institutions, especially the presidency. He currently is working on research projects on Obama's education initiatives, distributive politics, and the normative foundations of executive power.
 
Howell is the author, most recently, of Relic: How Our Constitution Undermines Effective Government—and Why We Need a More Powerful Presidency (Basic Books, 2016). He is also the author, with Saul Jackman and Jon Rogowski, of The Wartime President: Executive Influence and the Nationalizing Politics of Threat (University of Chicago Press, 2013), and, with David Brent, Thinking about the Presidency: The Primacy of Power (Princeton University Press, 2013).
 
Event Location: 
The Seminary Co-op Bookstore
5751 S. Woodlawn Ave
Chicago, IL 60637