The University of Texas Law School is sponsoring a symposium, “In the Winter of Our Discontent: The State of Democracy in the Age of Trump,” on Thursday, February 23, and Friday, February 24, which will address some of these widespread anxieties. In particular, it will focus on four recent books reflecting on the challenges facing democratic political systems at home and abroad:
Bruce Cain (Stanford University), DEMOCRACY MORE OR LESS: AMERICA’S POLITICAL REFORM QUANDARY
Edward Foley (Ohio State School of Law), BALLOT BATTLES: THE HISTORY OF DISPUTED ELECTIONS IN THE UNITED STATES
Samuel Issacharoff (New York University School of Law), FRAGILE DEMOCRACIES: CONTESTED DEMOCRACY IN THE ERA OF CONSTITUTIONAL COURTS
Nancy Rosenblum (Professor Emerita, Harvard Department of Government), GOOD NEIGHBORS: THE DEMOCRACY OF EVERYDAY LIFE IN AMERICA (Princeton)
In part because of the press of current events, which has resulted in the expansion of the conference originally envisioned last summer, Friday will be a packed day, beginning with a welcome and general overview of the symposium at 8:45 by Dean Ward Farnsworth and Professor Levinson, respectively. The first panel, on Issacharoff’s Fragile Democracies, will follow immediately from 9-10:45. The panel, moderated by Prof. Gary Jacobsohn (UT Department of Government and Law School), will include Zack Elkins (UT Department of Government), Jack Balkin (Yale Law School), Victor Ferreres (UT Law School), and Willy Forbath (UT Law School), with a reply by Issacharoff. Following a short break, a second panel, from 11-12:15 will address the issues raised by Rosenblum’s Good Neighbors. The discussants will be Dana Stauffer of the U.T. Government Department, and Levinson.
A lunch for everyone in attendance will commence at 12:30 in the Francis Auditorium, with a talk at 12:45 by Alex Keyssar, a professor at Harvard’s J.F.K. School, on his forthcoming book on why the electoral college persists in spite of all of the criticism directed at it. That will be followed, around 1:30, by a discussion/debate between Princeton Professor of Politics Keith Whittington, on the one hand and U.T. Professors Levinson, Jeffrey Tulis, and Jeremi Suri, who co-authored an op-ed in the New York Daily News pleading with Republican electors to exercise their “Hamiltonian prerogative” (as enunciated in Federalist 68) to vote for someone other than the egregious Donald Trump for the presidency.
A third panel, from 2:30-4:00, will consider Bruce Cain’s Democracy More or Less. The principal discussant will be Harvard Prof. Jennifer Hochschild, the immediate past president of the American Political Science Association, who will be joined by Nancy Rosenblum, prior to a response by Cain. The final event of this long day, from 4:15-5:45, will examine Ned Foley’s definitive examination of post-election disputes in American history. The primary discussant will be Keith Whittington, with the further participation of Zack Elkins, Issacharoff, and Mimi Marziani, now the Executive Director, Texas Civil Rights Project, and, of course, Foley himself.
The questions presented by these books and their authors obviously are all too timely. Given the topics and our current “discontents”, it is easy to promise these issues will be address with proper seriousness and scholarly knowledge.
Full event information: https://law.utexas.edu/calendar/2017/02/24/27264/