“How to Save Constitutional Democracy” is the exquisite product of two scholars: Aziz Huq, scholar and Professor of Law at University of Chicago, and Tom Ginsburg, Professor of International Law in the same university. In this important new book, the two scholars give a comprehensive and thorough analysis of the abusive use of the American Constitution by elected leaders that has served to undermine democracy. In a broader scope, they sought to unveil the universal danger that any democracy may turn back into autocracy or oligarchy.
Huq and Ginsburg draw from a wide array of examples of democracies regressing in their progress towards constitutional rules. Using the United States of America as an example, Huq and Ginsburg highlighted how the constitution makes democratic abrasion foreseeable, unpacking how what has become an unbending constitutional structure may give room for non-compliant behaviour by political actors and inhibit the strengthening of rights.
The Commonwealth Club of California held the event on October 15, 2018 to draw insights from the new book and featured Aziz Huq as one of the guest speakers. Bertrall Ross, the Chancellor’s Professor at the UC Berkeley School of Law, moderated the event. The event description notes that:
Democracies are facing multiplying challenges—from structural changes to geopolitical shifts to cultural transformations. Though the United States remains one of the strongest democratic nations in the world, it is by no means immune to democratic backsliding.
As the American public becomes more polarized on issues such as the freedom of press and U.S.–Russia relations, will our institutions hold? Do the systemic weaknesses revealed by recent pressures on the U.S. Constitution require fundamental change in how the Constitution is interpreted and implemented? How likely is it that our democracy could erode? And what can be done to mitigate the risk?
The video lasted about an hour and seven minutes. Take a look: