Power to the People: Constitutionalism in the Age of Populism

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Wednesday, 24 November 2021, online at 9pm Sydney time

Speakers: Professor Mark Tushnet and Professor Bojan Bugarič

On this occasion, Mark Tushnet* and Bojan Bugarič** will be joining us for a discussion about their newly-released book, Power to the People: Constitutionalism in the Age of Populism (Oxford University Press, 2021), in which they explore a series of case studies to identify when and how populist programs are consistent with constitutionalism – and, importantly, when and how they are not.

In the book Tushnet and Bugarič note that self-described populist leaders around the world are dismantling their nation’s constitutions, and that this has led to a widespread view that populism as such is inconsistent with constitutionalism. They propose that some forms of populism are inconsistent with constitutionalism, while others aren’t. Context and detail matter. Their analysis offers a thin definition of constitutionalism that people from the progressive left to the conservative right should be able to agree on even if they would supplement the thin definition with other more partisan ideas. This is followed by a similarly basic definition of populism. Comparing the two, the book argues that one facet of populism – its suspicion of institutions that are strongly entrenched against change by political majorities – is sometimes inconsistent with constitutionalism’s thinly understood definition.

The discussion panel for this webinar will be the leaders of our research project, Associate Professor Adam Czarnota and Professor Martin Krygier, both of the University of New South Wales Faculty of Law & Justice, and Professor Wojciech Sadurski of the University of Sydney Law School.

The event is free, but registration is essential to gain access to this webinar.

Our project is co-hosting this talk with the Network for Interdisciplinary Studies of Law.

*Mark Tushnet is the William Nelson Cromwell Professor of Law, Emeritus at Harvard Law School. Professor Tushnet, who graduated from Harvard College and Yale Law School and served as a law clerk to Justice Thurgood Marshall, specializes in constitutional law and theory, including comparative constitutional law. His research includes studies of constitutional review in the United States and around the world, and the creation of other “institutions for protecting constitutional democracy.” He also writes in the area of legal and particularly constitutional history, with works on the development of civil rights law in the United States and a history of the Supreme Court in the 1930s.

**Bojan Bugarič is a Professor of Law at the University of Sheffield School of Law. He teaches and researches in the fields of constitutional law, comparative constitutional law, public law, EU law, law and democracy and law and development, broadly conceived. He studied law as an undergraduate at the University of Ljubljana, graduated (LLM) at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) and wrote his doctorate at the University of Wisconsin, Madison. He served as Deputy Minister at the Ministry of the Interior in the Slovenian government from 2000-2004.