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Law & Social Inquiry features PAL review essay

The latest issue of Law & Social Inquiry features a review essay written by Fabio de Sa e Silva, which outlines many lessons produced in the PAL project.

The piece is entitled "Good Bye, Liberal–Legal Democracy" and is available in an open access format to all interested readers. The article's abstract reads as follows.

Every other day, books and articles are published that examine the withering of democracy across multiple national contexts, perhaps best summarized by Steven Levitsky and Daniel Zibblat’s How Democracies Die. The law has not been ignored in this burgeoning literature. Telling examples are the studies on autocratic legalism by Javier Corrales and Kim Lane Scheppele; Tom Ginsburg and Aziz Huq’s book How to Save a Constitutional Democracy; a recent review essay by Michael McCann and Filiz Kahraman on the “interdependence of liberal and illiberal legal orders … in the United States”; and two forthcoming works from the Project on Autocratic Legalism: a special issue in the Verfassung und Recht in Übersee/World Comparative Law journal and a book on Brazil edited by Oscar Vilhena Vieira and colleagues. In this review essay, I focus on three critical issues arising from these and other sources. First, they show that a backlash against liberal democracies is happening in both the global South and the global North. Second, they show that law is no longer thought of as an intrinsic bulwark against assaults on liberal democracy—on the contrary, rising autocrats, many of whom are trained lawyers, often use the law as a tool to consolidate power, sideline minorities and political adversaries, and rule unconstrained. Finally, while earlier analyses of this phenomenon have tended to emphasize legislative change that reconfigured governance at its highest levels (the Presidency or Prime Minister’s Office, Congress, and High Courts), new studies are revealing––and are helping constitute––an empirically broader field of inquiry.

"I am thankful to the journal and to the review essays section editor, Howard Erlanger, for enabling us to more broadly communicate some of the debates on law, democracy, and democratic backsliding taking place in the law and society community," said de Sa e Silva. A link to the full piece is available on our publications page.


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