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Three Students on Democratic Legalism in the US

Today, Fabio talks to Konrad Sartorius, Caleb Wisinger, and David Taitano – three students in the Masters of International Affairs program at the University of Oklahoma.

Konrad and Caleb attended a course on Autocratic Legalism taught by Fabio. With David, they built on what they learned with Fabio to develop a project for another course, which they named Democratic Legalism. In such project, they mapped vulnerabilities in the US constitutional order, which would make the country more susceptible to autocratic leadership, and proposed legal changes aimed at fortifying the resilience of the US system against such threats.

The episode begins with a discussion on what drew these students to studies of democracy, and how much attention they had paid to the nexus between law and democracy before interacting with Fabio. The episode moves onto a discussion about their project: what points of vulnerability do they identify in the US constitutional system and what remedies do they propose to fix those?

Fabio and his students then engage in a very lively conversation about the role and the limits of law in safeguarding democracy – recognizing that closing gaps in constitutional design alone may be insufficient to shield a country like the US from authoritarian leadership, but also that there are still strong and important reasons why we should care about building such legal resilience in democracies.

Like three others episodes in this series, this one offers yet another compelling illustration of how impactful the discussions promoted through this podcast and the PAL project can be in the academic, professional, and civic lives of students.


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