June 9, 2017

ACS 2017 National Convention Plenary: Norms, Conventions, and Constitutional Governance

2017 ACS National Convention

Ruth Marcus

The Washington Post
Begin: 0:02

Neil Siegel

Duke University School of Law
Begin: 2:32

Aziz Huq

University of Chicago Law School
Begin: 8:22

William Kristol

The Weekly Standard
Begin: 15:31

Pamela Karlan

Stanford Law School
Begin: 19:09

Dahlia Lithwick

Begin: 23:35

Historically, elected and appointed officials who lead American political institutions have operated under both legal constraints and non-legal but obligatory constitutional conventions, which are norms that guide officials in their exercise of political discretion. Among other virtues, conventions keep partisanship within reasonable bounds so that governmental institutions can function effectively and the public can hold officials accountable for their actions.

Recently, political actors have become increasingly willing to abandon longstanding conventions in pursuit of their own partisan or personal objectives. What role do conventions play in constitutional governance and how do they relate to duties and rights found in the Constitution? How do we know what constitutes a convention and, once identified, how do we determine its scope? What arguments can be made when conventions are breached, and to whom should they be addressed? And what are the consequences of such breaches for our democracy?