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Legal Defenses Against Democratic Decline

Author: Tom Ginsburg

ABF Research Professor Tom Ginsburg and his colleague Aziz Huq, University of Chicago Law School Professor, explore how democracies erode and how to better uphold democratic values by drawing on historical lessons and recent experiences of democratic decline worldwide.

In 2019, Ginsburg and Huq published the book How to Save a Constitutional Democracy. The book investigates the two main pathways that can lead a nation away from democracy: (1) Authoritarian collapse, or the sudden and complete collapse into an authoritarian form of government, and; (2) democratic erosion, which occurs when the rule of law, individual rights, and competitive elections decay slowly over time. The book offers a wealth of examples from around the world to demonstrate how, in practice, constitutional rules can both deter and accelerate decline. Using these examples, the authors mount an urgent argument against complacency and for constitutional reform. They make the 16 case that while the U.S. Constitution has endured for centuries, it does not contain the necessary provisions to slow down any potential autocrat or eroding political competition that is bent on dismantling the republic.

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