Austin Sarat Lecture
The Decline of American Democracy and the Rule of Law?: A Case for Legal Studies in the Liberal Arts
As is well known, America's founding political commitments were to democracy and the rule of law. Some have described them as the soul and spirit of our nation. And over the generations citizens have given their lives to preserve those commitments. But it turns out that their meanings are contested and open to interpretation. This lecture will discuss those contested meanings as they have played out in American history. We will, in addition, assess the health of democracy and the rule of law in the United States.
Today some believe that the rule of law and democracy are under attack by President Trump and his administration. But, could it be this be a symptom rather than a cause of what some see as our current crisis? Does America face an erosion of public faith in long taken-for-granted aspects of our political life? As we answer those questions we will discuss the meaning and advantages of the rule of law and democratic governance.
Austin Sarat is associate dean of the faculty and William Nelson Cromwell Professor of Jurisprudence & Political Science at Amherst College. At Amherst he teaches courses on American law and politics including a course called Secrets and Lies. He is the author or editor of more than 90 books. His most recent book is entitled “Gruesome Spectacles: Botched Executions and America’s Death Penalty.”
Co-sponsored by the History Department, the Economics Department, the English Department, Pre-Law Advising, and Peace & Justice Studies.
Thursday, October 24 at 6:00pm
Masters Hall 110 Mara Auditorium