Book Talk: Constitutional Democracy in Crisis?, Wednesday, October 3 at noon

The Harvard Law School Library staff invite you to attend a book talk and discussion in celebration of the recent publication of Constitutional Democracy in Crisis? edited by Mark A. Graber, Sanford Levinson and Mark Tushnet (Oxford Univ. Press, Sept. 20, 2018). Mark Tushnet is the William Nelson Cromwell Professor of Law at Harvard Law School. Sanford Levinson is the W. St. John Garwood and W. St. John Garwood, Jr., Centennial Chair in Law at the University of Texas Law School and Visiting Professor of Law at Harvard Law School.  Professors Tushnet and Levinson will be joined in discussion by Vicki C. Jackson, Thurgood Marshall Professor of Constitutional Law at Harvard Law School; Steven R. Levitsky, Harvard University Professor of Government; and Katharine Young, Associate Professor at Boston College Law School.

Copies of Constitutional Democracy in Crisis? will be available for sale courtesy of the Harvard Law School COOP and Professors Levinson and Tushnet will be available for signing books at the end of the talk.

Wednesday, October 3, 2018, at noon
Harvard Law School WCC Milstein West B (Directions)
1585 Massachusetts Ave., Cambridge, MA
No RSVP required

Poster Constitutional Democracy in Crisis?

About Constitutional Democracy in Crisis?

“Is the world facing a serious threat to the protection of constitutional democracy?

There is a genuine debate about the meaning of the various political events that have, for many scholars and observers, generated a feeling of deep foreboding about our collective futures all over the world. Do these events represent simply the normal ebb and flow of political possibilities, or do they instead portend a more permanent move away from constitutional democracy that had been thought triumphant after the demise of the Soviet Union in 1989?

Constitutional Democracy in Crisis? addresses these questions head-on: Are the forces weakening constitutional democracy around the world general or nation-specific? Why have some major democracies seemingly not experienced these problems? How can we as scholars and citizens think clearly about the ideas of “constitutional crisis” or “constitutional degeneration”? What are the impacts of forces such as globalization, immigration, income inequality, populism, nationalism, religious sectarianism?

Bringing together leading scholars to engage critically with the crises facing constitutional democracies in the 21st century, these essays diagnose the causes of the present afflictions in regimes, regions, and across the globe, believing at this stage that diagnosis is of central importance – as Abraham Lincoln said in his “House Divided” speech, “If we could first know where we are, and whither we are tending, we could then better judge what to do, and how to do it.”” — Oxford University Press

Mark Tushnet




Mark Tushnet, William Nelson Cromwell Professor of Law at Harvard Law School


Sanford Levinson


Sanford Levinson, W. St. John Garwood and W. St. John Garwood, Jr., Centennial Chair in Law at the University of Texas Law School and Visiting Professor of Law at Harvard Law School


Vicki Jackson



Vicki C. Jackson, Thurgood Marshall Professor of Constitutional Law at Harvard Law School


Steve Levitsky




Steven R. Levitsky, Harvard University Professor of Government

Katharine Young




Katharine Young, Associate Professor at Boston College Law School


More About Constitutional Democracy in Crisis?

“Many are convinced that liberal constitutional democracy is in the midst of a severe crisis, and is being replaced by illiberal constitutional democracy. This important book analyses the reasons for this development, both at the global level and at the national level. It presents original and illuminating answers to the question, ‘Why is this shift occurring?’ This scholarly foundation is necessary for finding answers to the question of how this trend can be reversed. The time is right for this book to be published by its first-class authors, and it provides the intellectual foundations necessary for each of us to cope with the changes that are occurring in our own constitutional democracies, and to try to turn the tide. For me, as a retired judge, the book provides food for thought about where we went wrong, and what we can do to take us in a new direction.” — Aharon Barak, former President of the Supreme Court of Israel; Professor of Law at IDC Herzliya

“Constitutional democracies around the world are suffering assaults from within. Globally, political freedoms are becoming weaker. Democracy does not necessarily guarantee prosperity. This book provides a superb appraisal of democracy’s current crisis. Those who wish to learn about what is happening to constitutional democracies around the world should read this groundbreaking, multiperspective, and transdisciplinary book.” — Sabino Cassese, Emeritus Justice, Italian Constitutional Court; Emeritus Professor, University of Rome

“To question the current health of constitutional democracy is implicitly to affirm that there are more chapters to be written before we arrive at the end of history. Fortunately, we now have the exquisitely crafted chapters in this unique collection of essays to help us make sense of our current predicament. Written against the backdrop of a multitude of ominous developments that have shaken confidence in the stability and endurance of liberal democratic institutions, the contributors to this timely volume explore this portentous moment from all angles, leaving the reader richly informed, if not sanguine, about future prospects. A careful reading will, however, not end in despair, for as the most disturbing threats to political freedom and economic justice emanate from within, the challenge that they represent can also be met from within.” — Gary Jeffrey Jacobsohn, H. Malcolm Macdonald Professor of Constitutional and Comparative Law, University of Texas at Austin

“This book is an indispensable resource for understanding the rise of illiberal populisms and the possibilities for sustaining constitutionalism and democracy. Contributors include leading global scholars of comparative constitutional law, whose chapters provide a diverse empirical base from countries around the world with which to evaluate constitutional democracy and its contemporary challenges and competitors. Theories are tested, data provided, and new concepts advanced – addressing, among other topics, the role of political parties, political leaders, religion, economic inequality, race, ethnicity, and immigration – in a set of readable and relatively short chapters that, as much as any edited scholarly collection could be, is a true “page-turner”, hard to stop reading once one starts.” — Vicki C. Jackson, Thurgood Marshall Professor of Constitutional Law, Harvard Law School

“This rigorous, wide-ranging, and engaging volume is an indispensable guide to the current crisis of constitutional democracy. The volume’s theoretical essays raise profound new questions about the relationship between constitutionalism and democracy. Its high quality empirical chapters help us understand the global reach and historical roots of the current crisis. This is a landmark book for our troubled times.” — Pratap B. Mehta, Vice-Chancellor, Ashoka University; past President, Centre for Policy Research

“At the end of the 20th century, constitutional democracy had gained almost universal acceptance. At least, so it seemed. A decade later, we see constitutional democracy declining or mutating into more authoritarian forms of government in a number of countries. In this timely book, more than forty outstanding authors from many parts of the world offer a comprehensive analysis of this development and its causes, which should be of paramount interest not only to scholars and students of law and politics, but to everyone concerned about public affairs.” — Dieter Grimm, Former Justice, Federal Constitutional Court of Germany; Professor of Law, Humboldt University Berlin

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