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Sovereignty, Emergency, and Legality

Sovereignty, Emergency, and Legality

October 17, 2008

The purpose of this symposium is to chart the complex interplay of sovereignty, emergency, and legality and to ask what we can learn about each by examining their juxtaposition. For some scholars, sovereignty is only truly knowable in times of emergency, moments when the law is suspended, put on hold. Others believe that sovereign power is more malleable, less absolute, adaptable to constitutional democracy. For these scholars, sovereign power can and does operate in and through law and law, in turn, can be used to domesticate and direct that power.

While in the United States today many have turned their attention to sovereignty, emergency, and legality, we use this symposium not just to take up today’s pressing issues, but also to revisit moments in our past–e.g…. the internment of Japanese- Americans and the Supreme Court’s Korematsu decision, the civil rights movement and the decisions in Cooper v. Aaron and Walker v. Birmingham–and to use these moments to frame the history of the present. We also turn our attention to the experience of other nations–e.g…. the British in Northern Ireland, the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, etc.

Drawing together historical and comparative work with the rigorous examination of sovereignty, emergency, and legality in the early 21st century United States will, we believe, provide a distinctive way of framing an ongoing and important set of theoretical and practical problems.

Organized by Professor Austin Sarat, William Nelson Cromwell Professor of Jurisprudence and Political Science at Amherst and Justice Hugo L. Black Visiting Senior Faculty Scholar at the University of Alabama School of Law.

Participants include:
Sumi Cho, DePaul University
David Dyzenhaus, University of Toronto
Leonard Feldman, University of Oregon
Patrick Gudridge, University of Miami
Michel Rosenfeld, Yeshiva University


Dean Ken Randall and Professor Austin Sarat

Session I
Defined Orderly Ways

Patrick Gudridge, Professor of Law, University of Miami
Moderator/Commentator: Professor Paul Horwitz, The University of Alabama School of Law

Session II
The Banality of Emergency

Leonard Feldman, Assistant Professor of Political Science, University of Oregon
Moderator/Commentator: Professor John Shahar Dillbary, The University of Alabama School of Law

Lunch and Keynote
The Organic Law of Ex Parte Miligan

David Dyzenhaus, Professor of Law, University of Toronto
Moderator/Commentator: Professor Tony Freyer, The University of Alabama School of Law

Session III
The Racial Sovereign

Sumi Cho, Professor of Law, DePaul University
Moderator/Commentator: Professor Debra Lyn Bassett, The University of Alabama School of Law

Session IV
Should Constitutional Democracies Redefine Emergencies and the Legal Regimes Suitable for THEM

Michel Rosenfeld, Professor of Law, Yeshiva University
Moderator/Commentator: Professor James Leonard, The University of Alabama School of Law