Notice & Comment

Hot off UCLA Law Review Press: The Safeguards of Our Constitutional Republic Symposium

As I blogged about back in January, the UCLA Law Review organized a terrific live symposium entitled The Safeguards of Our Constitutional Republic. The print issue just came out. Here’s a rundown of the written contributions from the UCLA Law Review website, with links to each essay:


From Doctrine to Safeguards in American Constitutional Democracy

Scholars, judges, and policymakers have observed that American constitutional democracy depends on far more than the constraints imposed by judicially-interpreted formal legal arrangements. Drawing on judicial doctrine, political science, and the history of American institutions since the end of World War II, this article explores what it means to take seriously a more expansive, less court-centric view of the safeguards associated with American constitutional democracy.

How Constitutional Norms Break Down

The article calls attention to the latent instability of constitutional norms and theorizes the structure of constitutional norm change. It argues that, under certain conditions, it will be more worrisome when norms are subtly revised than when they are openly flouted. Thus, President Trump’s flagrant defiance of norms may not be as big a threat to our constitutional democracy as the more complex norm deterioration underway in other institutions.

The Constitution of Our Tribal Republic

Long before there was a U.S. Constitution for the American republic, there were treaties among Indian Nations and between Indian Nations and colonial governments reflecting ideals of consultation and negotiation among self-determining peoples. Using negotiations between the United States and the states a point of comparison, this article works through what it might mean to think about negotiations in Indian Country in constitutional terms.

Unbundling Populism

Populism is primarily defined in our public discussions by the loudest self-identifying populists active in democratic politics at the moment. Populism has therefore often been treated as a concept merging not just antiestablishment sentiments, but also authoritarian and xenophobic sentiments. The article argues the antiestablishment part of populism can be empirically and logically unbundled from its authoritarian and xenophobic dimensions.

Accountability in the Deep State

The story behind the resignation of Joel Clement’s—the head of the U.S. Interior Department’s Office of Policy Analysis—provides a window into the relationship between the political leadership and the civil service at the Interior Department in the first year of the Trump administration. It also serves as a jumping-off point to revisit the value in having a civil service with some independence from politics, and to consider mechanisms to protect that independence.

(Re)Constructing Democracy in Crisis

This article complements academic discourse about democratic backsliding by focusing on two questions: In what ways has democracy been chronically or systemically weakened and prevented, and what kinds of new institutional and organizational forms do we need to realize democratic aspirations in the twenty-first century.

America’s Conscience: The Rise of Civil Society Groups Under President Trump

The article explores the role and transformation of civil society groups under the presidency of Donald Trump. It observes such groups face the risk of overlooking injustices that do not involve President Trump, the urge to sharpen tactics against the administration’s lawyers, and the temptation to forget that the country will be better off when, once more, the work of civil society groups is not so urgently needed.

Administrative Law Without Courts

This article argues that it is a mistake to fixate on courts as the core safeguard in the modern administrative state. The article surveys federal agencies that regulate us in many ways that either evade judicial review entirely or are at least substantially insulated from such review.

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