David S. Law, LAPA Fellow; Washington University in St. Louis

The Structure of Global Constitutionalism

Mon, 03/30/2015
301 Marx Hall
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Please join us for a LAPA Seminar with David S. Law, Professor of Law and Professor of Political Science at Washington University in St. Louis.  His commentator is Robert O. Keohane, Professor of International Affairs in the Woodrow Wilson School.

LAPA’s seminar format assumes that seminar participants have familiarized themselves with the paper in advance. The commentator opens the session by summarizing the main themes in the paper and presenting some topics for discussion. The author then has the right of first response before we open to the floor for questions. The seminar will end with a brief reception, giving everyone a chance to mingle and meet.

From Professor Law: "What is global constitutionalism, and what can be said about its structure?  The amount of supranational law that serves at least vaguely constitutional functions has increased in recent decades, and there are an increasing number of constitutional similarities from country to country -- just as there remain stubborn and deep-seated differences. Meanwhile, potential mechanisms for generating some form of transnational constitutional - the UN, the EU, transnational judicial networks – are each the subject of its own burgeoning literature and continue to multiply in number and scope. Any effort to integrate these phenomena into a single analytical framework faces both conceptual and empirical challenges. The overall empirical question is whether there exists some underlying structure or pattern to the various constitutional differences and similarities that exist across countries. The answer to that question, however, cannot be formulated without a conceptual vocabulary that does not yet exist. Confusion surrounds both the definition of key concepts such as “constitution,” “constitutionalism,” and “global constitutionalism,” and the appropriate categorization of the increasing number of supranational processes, mechanisms, and institutions with constitutional ramifications at the national level.

On the conceptual front, this paper proposes a typology of both supranational constitutional mechanisms and the building blocks of national constitutional systems. On the empirical front, this paper presents evidence of a relatively pervasive historical-genealogical-ideological schism that divides both constitutions and constitutional courts into one of two global blocs or families. The structure of global constitutionalism, it is argued, can be described by mapping the relationship between the generic and polarizing elements of constitutional drafting and constitutional adjudication."

David S. Law is Professor of Law and Professor of Political Science at Washington University in St. Louis.   His research interests include the transnational and global elements of constitutionalism and the design and operation of courts.  His scholarship is interdisciplinary and employs a combination of qualitative and quantitative empirical research methods ranging from statistical analysis to overseas fieldwork.  He is a native Mandarin speaker and holds a Ph.D. in political science from Stanford, a B.C.L. in European and Comparative Law from the University of Oxford, and a J.D. from Harvard Law School.  He has served as a visiting professor at Georgetown University Law Center, National Taiwan University College of Law, Seoul National University School of Law, and Keio University Faculty of Law, and as a visiting scholar at the NYU School of Law.  He has been a Fulbright Scholar in Taiwan and was awarded an International Affairs Fellowship in Japan (Hitachi Fellowship) by the Council on Foreign Relations.  His recent work on constitutional globalization and the declining influence of the U.S. Constitution has been featured in a variety of media, and his book The At Princeton he will be working on a book project on the globalization of constitutionalism.

Robert O. Keohane is the author of After Hegemony: Cooperation and Discord in the World Political Economy(1984) and Power and Governance in a Partially Globalized World (2002). He is co-author of Power and Interdependence (third edition 2001) and of Designing Social Inquiry (1994). He has served as the editor of the journal International Organization and president of the International Studies Association and the American Political Science Association. He is a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and the National Academy of Sciences. Ph.D. Harvard University.