During the last 20 years, some of the world’s most distinguished scholars have been invited to the law school to deliver a public lecture in memory of the late former dean Cecil A. Wright, who founded U of T’s modern law school.

The 2016-17 Wright Lecture

Prof. Kim Lane Scheppele

Prof. Kim Lane Scheppele
Laurance S. Rockefeller Professor of Sociology and International Affairs in the Woodrow Wilson School and the University Center for Human Values at Princeton University

The End of the End of History

Wednesday, November 2, 2016
4:10pm to 6:00pm
Jackman Law Building, Room J140
78 Queen's Park

After the collapse of the Soviet Union, Francis Fukuyama pronounced the “end of history” when it seemed that the world was moving toward a consensus on the establishment of liberal, democratic, constitutional governments.  Twenty-five years later, the number of liberal constitutional democracies is steadily declining, as states increasingly reject constitutionalism in liberal form.   Instead, backsliding states are developing a new set of legal tools to maintain the façade of democracy and constitutionalism, while hollowing out the liberal content.  The lecture will examine Hungary, Poland, Russia, Turkey, Venezuela and Ecuador as models of the new illiberal constitutionalism.  In each case, strongman leaders have been elected in (more or less) free and fair elections and then they pull up the ladder of succession after themselves, concentrating power in few hands, disabling the opposition, and removing the independence of any institution that could provide checks.  They modify or replace constitutions while turning their new forms of constitutionalism into the production of “worst practices.”   This lecture shows why liberal constitutionalists have been losing the battle for hearts and minds of angry publics and proposes the standard of “self-sustaining democracy” to spearhead the normative critique of these new regimes. 

Biography

Kim Lane Scheppele is the Laurance S. Rockefeller Professor of Sociology and International Affairs in the Woodrow Wilson School and the University Center for Human Values at Princeton University. Scheppele’s work focuses on the intersection of constitutional and international law, particularly in constitutional systems under stress. After 1989, Scheppele studied the emergence of constitutional law in Hungary and Russia, living in both places for extended periods. After 9/11, Scheppele researched the effects of the international “war on terror” on constitutional protections around the world. Her many publications on both post-1989 constitutional transitions and on post-9/11 constitutional challenges have appeared in law reviews, social science journals and multiple languages. In the last two years, she has been a public commentator on the transformation of Hungary from a constitutional-democratic state to one that risks breaching constitutional principles of the European Union.

 

See the Wright Lecture archives to find out more information about past lectures, including in some cases a description, the text, or a video of the lecture.