Constitutional Law Symposium to explore constitutional democracy

Tuesday, March 27th, 2018

Drake University Law School’s Constitutional Law Center will welcome experts from across the country to discuss constitutional democracy at the annual Constitutional Law Symposium on April 14.

The event is scheduled from 8:30 a.m. to 12:15 p.m. in Cartwright Hall, Room 213. Registration and breakfast will begin at 8 a.m.

Experts are questioning the global state of constitutional democracy. From the restriction of competitive elections and independent courts to the BREXIT referendum, manifestations of nationalist autocracy abroad threaten to undermine the democratic vision.

The United States has seen recent political success of a nationalist appeal with the election of President Donald Trump, who campaigned with the slogan “America First.” Commentators on both sides of the aisle question whether the nation is moving in an autocratic direction inconsistent with robust constitutional democracy.

This symposium will explore the state of constitutional democracy in light of these events, including political and related constitutional developments both in the U.S. and abroad.

"It has been virtually taken for granted until the last several years that U.S. presidential democracy is constitutionally stable and usually just," said Mark Kende, the James Madison Chair in Constitutional Law and director of the Drake Constitutional Law Center.

Kende explained that foreign nations liberated by the fall of the Berlin Wall or other circumstances adopted parliamentary democracy. However, polarization has increased, and many nations are now witnessing the rise of "autocratic leaders who do not appreciate democratic institutions such as independent courts or constitutional principles."

"This symposium will analyze these surprising and troubling constitutional developments, which may be among the most significant in modern political history," Kende said.

The symposium will feature the following speakers:

  • "The Jurisprudence of Anti-Erosion" — Tom Ginsburg, Leo Spitz Professor of International Law, Ludwig and Hilde Wolf Research Scholar, and Professor of Political Science, University of Chicago Law School
  • "Democracy and the Rule of Law in Trouble? Perspectives from China" — John Reitz, Edward Carmody Professor of Law and Director of Graduate Programs and Visiting Scholars, University of Iowa College of Law
  • "Corruption, Due Process & Democracy" — Elizabeth Foley, Professor of Law, Florida International University College of Law
  • "Is American Democracy Endangered?" — David Stebenne, Professor of History and Law, Ohio State University

Registration is limited and costs $15 per person (free for Drake and Dorsey & Whitney affiliated individuals), which covers the symposium and a continental breakfast. The event is approved for 3.0 CLE hours (Activity Number: 291491).

Register online at 2018drakeconlaw.eventbrite.com.

The Constitutional Law Symposium is sponsored by the Dorsey & Whitney law firm with support from U.S. Congressman Neal Smith.

If you have questions about the symposium or need further information, contact Sara Hughes at 515-271-2988 or sara.hughes@drake.edu.


The Drake Constitutional Law Center is one of only four constitutional law programs established by the U.S. Congress and funded by the federal government. The center's mission is to foster study of the U.S. Constitution and its roots, formation, principles, and development.

The annual Constitutional Law Symposium invites scholars, judges, and lawyers from across the country to discuss a timely constitutional issue. The proceedings are published in an issue of the Drake Law Review, which attendees can purchase for an additional $10.

Learn more about the Drake Constitutional Law Center.


For more news, visit the Drake Law News Archive.

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