Einladung zu einem Gastvortrag Prof. Howard Schweber

16.03.2018

Prof. Howard Schweber, University of Winsconsin, spricht am Freitag, 16. März 2018, um 10.30 Uhr im SEM 33 zum Thema "Constitutional Deficits:Democratic Rights Under the U.S. Constitution"

Abstract: The U.S. Constitution says very little about democracy.

With a very few exceptions, questions about voter and candidate qualifications, district and election design, and the operations of political parties were left entirely to the States. Article I says that Congress may enact laws about district design, and those laws have been enacted resulting in the universal utilization of singlemember winner-take-all districts, but beyond that questions about the legitimacy of democratic systems and outcomes were deemed “political”, meaning that they could not provide the basis for judicially enforceable claims under American constitutional law. After the Civil War an exception was made in the specific case of racial discrimination with the adoption of the XIVth and XVth Amendments, each of which explicitly protects against racial discrimination in voting. For a long
time even these provisions were treated as essentially unenforceable. Starting in the 1960s, finally, the Supreme Court began to understand the Constitution to protect rights of political participation, beginning with protections against racial discrimination. Yet the question of whether the Constitution protects rights of equal political participation generally, as opposed to solely in response to racially discriminatory measures, has remained unresolved. Scholars of democracy have been driven to despair by the extent to which parties and State legislatures have used their ability to distort the electoral system, campaign finance laws have permitted wealth to translate into political influence, and the general public trust in the legitimacy of the American system of government has fallen year after year. This year for the first time the Court appears poised to tackle a fundamental question: does the Constitution contain protections for democratic rights? In this lecture Prof. Schweber will review the issues leading up to this year’s controversies and consider the implications for the American “constitutional deficit”.

 


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