An Introduction To Issues Plaguing Constitutional Democracies From Sujit Choudhry

General politics and constitutional law are two of the specialities of Professor Sujit Choudhry of Berkeley, and his knowledge isn’t limited to only what can be learned in books. He has worked in a number of political spheres across the globe, and he has witnessed some of the issues with constitutional law firsthand. This has given him a unique opportunity to study constitutional law as it changes over time. He’s published a handful of articles on the subject so far, and his latest is a reflection of the global environment that seems to be promoting a general decay in constitutional democracy.  Check to learn more about his published works.

To begin with, Choudhry discusses the idea of what he calls a constitutional red line or focal point. These are basically constitutional laws that are points of contention, like presidential term limits. If a president attempted to alter the constitution to allow for more than two terms, his or her actions would be condemned as a play for extended power. Choudhry points out that if Trump were to fire Robert Mueller, the head of the investigation into the 2016 presidential election, there would be a similar breach of constitutional law.

A Possible Constitutional Change

At its core, this is a fault in the democratic process that could potentially threaten the basic functionality of the governmental system. Because the democratic process is open to all, it is possible for a radical group to gain control through completely legal methods. This is exactly what happened in Poland when the legislature was taken over by a majority from the nationalist right-wing party in 2015. Their majority gave them the power they needed to change the constitution, and they have effectively rewritten it to better suit the goals of their part (

The time has essentially passed that a government could be overthrown solely with force. Almost all people across the world agree that democracy is the best societal plan, so force would require too much effort and produce too much resistance. Instead, radical groups have learned to join the political process so they can make changes from within. When a politician crosses one of the constitutional red lines or focal points, it is a good sign the leader already feels their authority overrides constitutional law.

Keep up with Choudhry on Crunchbase

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