The Limits of Constitutionalism: A Global Perspective

From The Economist’s 2010 Democracy Survey

The University of Chicago Law School, Room V

Since World War II, liberal constitutionalism has become the default design choice for emerging democracies. The system is characterized by a written constitution which includes an enumeration of individual rights, the existence of rights-based judicial review, a heightened threshold for constitutional amendments, and a commitment to both democratic elections and the rule of law. However, the Brexit referendum in the UK and the most recent presidential election in the US may mark a repudiation of certain liberal democratic norms. At the same time, other countries have moved fully toward authoritarianism. These developments raise concerns about the future of liberal constitutionalism, and they raise questions about whether there are features of liberal constitutionalism that can prevent its erosion. This Symposium seeks to discuss these questions and considers the capacity of liberal constitutionalism to address these challenges. 


Friday, May 12


✴    9:00 AM - Introduction and Defects of Democracy

✴    10:30 AM - Autocratic Legalism

✴    11:15 AM - Constitutions and Economic Inequality

✴    1:15 PM - Competing Orders: The Challenges of Religion to Modern Constitutionalism

✴    2:00 PM - Why Constitutionalism? Formal Constitutional Change and Democratic Erosion

✴    3:00 PM - Against Constitutional Excess: Tocquevillian Reflections on International Investment Law

✴    3:45 PM - Terrorism and Democratic Recession


Saturday, May 13


✴    9:00 AM - Empire and the Limit of Rights-Based Review

✴    10:45 AM - The Internal Weakness of Liberal Constitutions

✴    11:30 AM -Supernational Governance as a Challenge to Liberal Constitutionalism?




✴    Aziz Huq, University of Chicago Law School

✴    Samuel Issacharoff, NYU Law School

✴    Kim Lane Scheppele, Woodrow Wilson School, Princeton University

✴    Ran Hirschl, University of Toronto

✴    David Landau, Florida State University College of Law

✴    Aziz Rana, Cornell Law School

✴    Grainne de Búrca, NYU Law School

✴    Adam Chilton, University of Chicago Law School

✴    Tom Ginsburg, University of Chicago Law School

✴    Mila Versteeg, University of Virginia School of Law

✴    Julie Suk, Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law, Yeshiva University

✴    Aylet Shachar, University of Toronto

✴    David Schneiderman, University of Toronto

✴    Richard Epstein, NYU Law School, The Hoover Institution, and the University of Chicago Law School

✴    Asli Bali, UCLA School of Law