Upcoming Speaking Engagement: 2017 ICON∙S Conference on ‘Courts, Power, and Public Law’, Copenhagen, July 5-7

 

My two scheduled presentations during the conference are entitled: ‘The European Court of Human Rights’ “constitutional morality” in the religious domain’, and ‘In Defense of the Classical Liberal Conception Regarding Religious Freedom’.

About the general conference theme:

‘The overarching theme of the ICON-S 2017 Annual Meeting will be “Courts, Power, Public Law”. The expanding role of courts is arguably one of the most significant developments in late-20th and early-21st century government. Today, courts around the world play an increasingly central role in defining the relationship between different organs of the state, as between state, non-state actors and individual citizens, and between national and supranational levels of governance. Domestic courts routinely interpret and enforce constitutional provisions guaranteeing the separation of powers, federalism and civil and political rights. Many domestic courts also now play a role in safeguarding democracy, and protecting and promoting social rights. In doing so, many domestic courts are also in active ‘dialogue’ with regional and international tribunals, as well as with transnational investment agreements or legal norms; and international courts likewise rely on regional and domestic human rights and public law norms in developing international jurisprudence.

What explains this increasingly dense network of judicial control over public power, and transnational judicial interaction? To what extent do courts succeed in achieving their goals, and under what conditions? In the midst of concerns about national and international security, how should courts respond to such concerns without compromising ideals of constitutional democracy? What should be the appropriate remit of international tribunals in balancing the competing claims of a just peace and individual responsibility? What are we to make of the role of courts in the management and mismanagement of the national and international economic crisis, and how it has called into question some of the classic institutions of democracy? Answering these questions requires close attention to the social, economic and political context for judicial review. It also invites attention to questions of public power: how, and under what conditions, do courts enjoy the power, legitimacy and independence necessary to serve as a meaningful check on national and transnational actors? How does the social and political power enjoyed by political elites, citizens or social movements contribute to the creation or success of judicial review in different settings? Do we need to rethink the conventional ways of understanding how courts mediate between the international and the national? Addressing these questions is a key focus for much of the leading scholarship on comparative constitutional law, comparative politics, comparative administrative law, and international law and governance today. It is also the focus of the ICON-S 2017 Conference.’

About ICON-S:

‘The initiative to create an International Society of Public Law emerged from the Editorial Board of I·CON – the International Journal of Constitutional Law. For several years now I·CON has been, both by choice and by the cartographic reality of the field, much more than a journal of comparative constitutional Law. I·CON has expanded its interests, range of authors, readers, Editorial Board members and, above all, issues covered to include not only discrete articles in fields such as Administrative Law, Global Constitutional Law, Global Administrative Law and the like, but also increasingly includes scholarship that reflects both legal reality and academic perception, and which in dealing with the challenges of public life and governance combines elements from all of the above with a good dosage of political theory and social science.’

Source, and all additional information:

https://icon-society.org/2017-conference/.

Michael Wear’s Reclaiming Hope (2017): ‘Learn How the Seeds of the Trump Presidency Were Sown in the Obama White House’

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‘In this unvarnished account of faith inside the world’s most powerful office, Michael Wear provides unprecedented insight into the highs and lows of working as a Christian in government. Reclaiming Hope is an insider’s view of the most controversial episodes of the Obama administration, from the president’s change of position on gay marriage and the transformation of religious freedom into a partisan idea, to the administration’s failure to find common ground on abortion and the bitter controversy over who would give the benediction at the 2012 inauguration.’

Source: https://www.amazon.com/Reclaiming-Hope-Lessons-Learned-America/dp/071808232X/ref=tmm_hrd_swatch_0?_encoding=UTF8&qid=&sr=.

See for more information on both author and book: http://michaelwear.com.

In my forthcoming book, I write:

The thing that without doubt has struck me most during my fellowship is how relatively fast and comprehensively the right to freedom of religion or belief has indeed already come under pressure across the West, at least in theory. It is difficult to give a single and clear-cut explanation for this. One important factor is without doubt the political polarisation that has come to be associated with religious freedom. Thus, Democrats blame Republicans for claiming a near-monopoly with respect to the right to freedom of religion or belief, thereby interpreting it in a conservative manner when it comes to topics such as same-sex marriage. On their part, as they themselves would be the first to admit, the Obama administration has not always dealt in a sensitive manner with issues regarding the inclusion of abortion and anticonception in the healthcare legislation it has introduced.

This is the sixth post in a new series introducing my forthcoming book on Constitutionalism, Democracy and Religious Freedom. To be Fully Human (Routledge, 2017).

For the first five posts, please see:

Major New Report by the National Secular Society: Rethinking Religion and Belief in Public Life

Symposium on Christian Democracy and America: ‘Can Christian Democracy Be America’s Next European Import?’

Journalist Ben Judah, Author of This is London (2016): ‘I Found Faith Everywhere’

The Washington Post on Why Religious Freedom Could Become the Major Religion Story of 2017

Book on Constitutionalism, Democracy and Religious Freedom. To Be Fully Human (Routledge) now available for pre-order

 

 

Introduction to volume ‘The Powers That Be. Rethinking the Separation of Powers’ now available online

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Abstract:

‘The idea of the separation of powers has been subjected to criticism and competition ever since it first came to be during the upheaval of the English Civil War. In recent years the case has once again been stated that the idea of the separation of powers has lost its significance in a globalised world, with a power constellation in which the distinctions between different types of “powers” have blurred and even so-called constituted power holders have become more and more diffuse. Yet even its fiercest opponents cannot deny that the idea of the separation of powers as a theory of government has, in the words of M.J.C. Vile, “in modern times, been the most significant, both intellectually and in terms of its influence upon institutional structures”.

The idea of the separation of powers reached its zenith in the United States and France in the late 19th century. In the two centuries that separate us from this zenith, the doctrine has suffered almost endless criticism, but endured nonetheless. The tenacity of the idea of the separation of powers is partly due to the fact that it is still widely held to be a procedural and institutional prerequisite for providing the state and its laws with legitimacy. It was, and is, considered by many a guarantor of liberty, in the absence of which power cannot be legitimately exercised.

However, both democratic legitimacy and the separation of powers as concepts have very much evolved alongside the state and over the last decades the state has been giving up ground to other power holders. This brings up the question of whether the combination of these concepts is still viable outside a traditional state context, and if so, in what form? This is the central question the current volume seeks to answer.’

See for the full text:

http://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=2194851.

See for order information:

http://www.lup.nl/product/the-powers-that-be/;

http://press.uchicago.edu/ucp/books/book/distributed/P/bo25134025.html.

Paper presentation, ‘Multiple Sovereignties and the Principle of Separation of Powers’, IXth World Congress of Constitutional Law, University of Oslo (2014)

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About the Congress:

‘The IACL holds a World Congress every 3-4 years. The IXth Congress will take place in Oslo from 16 to 20 June 2014 and is organised by the Department of Public Law at the University of Oslo in collaboration with the Executive Committee of the IACL. The venue for the Congress is the historic Main Building of the University of Oslo, which is in the centre of the city.
The Congress will take place just one month after the 200th anniversary of the Norwegian Constitution which today stands as the second-oldest written Constitution in the world. It is expected that between 300 and 500 participants will attend the Congress, from all regions of the world.
The working languages of the Congress are French and English and simultaneous translation will be provided in plenary sessions.
The IACL uses two principal formats for the scholarly programme of a World Congress: plenary sessions and workshops. Plenary sessions are open to all participants while workshops are smaller and discussion-based. There will be four plenary sessions in this Congress, each of which lasts for 3½ hours.’

About the workshop during which the paper was presented (‘The mutations and transformation of division of powers: the constitutional organization’):

‘The classical characteristics of the Legislative and Executive Powers, which have scarcely changed since the origins of liberal constitutionalism (XVIIIXIX), are no longer adequate concepts or theoretical devices for explaining constitutional reality.

Every division of powers rests on the willingness of a constitutional assembly to divide the power with the purpose of avoiding the abuse of power and tyranny. The search for a system of checks and balances is then based on a liberal conception of political power. Therefore the main instrument to realize this balanced frame is to organize a moderate and representative government as was defended by Montesquieu and other authors; a limited power – they thought – should exclude arbitrariness and despotism.

But it becomes necessary to maintain two essential ingredients of the spirit of division of powers: the efficiency of this frame of government and the limitation of powers itself. The first ensures the supreme and general interest of a community; the second guarantees the fundamental rights and private interests of individuals. Thus both requirements must condition the development of the political society that every Constitution leads.

The issue of division of powers is however, nowadays, clearly renewed, because not only do the Executive and the Legislative powers play a main role within constitutional organization, but also those two classical powers have been submitted to strong transformations. Besides, modern constitutional provisions have created many new organs and powers, taking into account new circumstances and techniques.

On one hand, the judiciary power has affirmed itself step by step as a counter power of political and representative power. On the other hand, there are other powers with a diverse nature and quite different from those organized by the constitution:

the economic and financial powers,
international organizations which can be founded on different bedrocks,
lobbies which represent the interest of different groups in a society or even
collective and minority interests (religions, languages, costumes, regional or national identities), or
media powers.
These entities do not belong to the democratic and representative circuit provided inside constitutions. Those new realities and scenarios should probably be present in the philosophy of the contemporary constitutional organization. We must also underline the existence of supranational organizations, in particular in Europe and Latin America, as well as their intense impact on the transformation of the domestic division of power within the States.’

For sources and additional information, see:

http://www.iacl-aidc.org/en/events/previous-events/103-oslo-congress-oslo-congress-16-20-june-2014;

http://www.jus.uio.no/english/research/news-and-events/events/conferences/2014/wccl-cmdc/wccl/program/workshops/workshop15.html.

[At my request, my own paper was removed from the list of ‘accepted papers’ for copyright purposes.]