Boston College Law School
with the support of
The Institute for Liberal Arts
invite submissions for
Conference on “Amending America’s Unwritten Constitution”
May 16-17, 2019
Submissions are invited from faculty and graduate students for a two-day conference on “Amending America’s Unwritten Constitution,” a timely subject of importance in history, law and politics.
Convened by Richard Albert (Texas), Yaniv Roznai (IDC), and Ryan C. Williams (Boston College), this Conference will be held on the campus of Boston College on Thursday and Friday, May 16-17, 2019.
Subject-Matter of the Conference
Recent constitutional scholarship reveals renewed interest in how unwritten constitutional norms and conventions underlying U.S. constitutional practice can and do change. The conference aims to advance the field by focusing on theoretical, conceptual, and practical questions concerning what it means to “amend” America’s “unwritten constitution” (including what has been called the “small-c constitution”), how the “unwritten constitution” can be amended, and who the relevant constitutional actors are in catalyzing and concretizing these changes.
Structure of the Conference
The conference will be structured around eight keynote lectures in addition to concurrent panels comprised of faculty and graduate students in law, history, political science and other fields of interest.
The conference keynote lectures will address the following themes:
1. What and Where is America’s Unwritten Constitution?
Mark Graber (Maryland)
2. What is an “Amendment”?
Sandy Levinson (Texas)
3. America’s Unwritten Constitution
Miriam Seifter (Wisconsin)
4. Amending Unwritten Constitutional Norms and Conventions
Frederick Schauer (Virginia)
5. Comparative Perspectives on America’s Unwritten Constitution
Mark Tushnet (Harvard)
6. The Role of the Political Branches in Unwritten Amendment
Vik Amar (Illinois)
7. The Role of the Courts in Unwritten Amendment
Carolyn Shapiro (Chicago-Kent)
8. The Role of the People in Unwritten Amendment
Emily Zackin (Johns Hopkins)
In addition to the keynote lectures, the two-day conference will feature concurrent panels featuring papers selected from this Call. The purpose of the panels is to convene groups of faculty and graduate students for a high-level discussion on enduring and emerging questions raised by the conference themes, broadly-defined. The panels will be chaired by the keynote lecturers. These panels will offer participants a combination of rigorous scholarly exchange and constructive guidance on the ideas in the papers. Conference meals will offer an opportunity for more relaxed social interaction.
Submissions for the concurrent panels are invited from faculty and students enrolled in graduate programs from various disciplines (e.g. history, law, political science, sociology). Papers are welcomed on any subject related to the eight keynote topics identified above. Papers may take comparative, doctrinal, empirical, historical, philosophical, sociological, theoretical or other perspectives.
Interested scholars should email a CV and abstract no longer than 750 words by November 15, 2018 to firstname.lastname@example.org on the understanding that the abstract will form the basis of the pre-conference draft to be submitted by April 15, 2019. Scholars should identify their submission with the following subject line: “Conference on Amending America’s Unwritten Constitution” —Abstract Submission.” Please state in your submission to which of the above-mentioned eight themes your abstract suits. All materials should be submitted in PDF.
Successful applicants will be notified no later than December 1, 2019.
There is no cost to participate in this Conference. Group meals will be generously provided by Institute for the Liberal Arts at Boston College. Successful applicants are responsible for securing their own funding for all other expenses.
Please direct inquiries in connection with this Symposium to:
The University of Texas at Austin
Interdisciplinary Center (IDC) Herzliya
Ryan C. Williams
Boston College Law School
About the Convenors
Richard Albert is William Stamps Farish Professor of Law at the University of Texas at Austin. He writes about constitutional change, including amendment, replacement, interpretation and revolution. His publications have been translated into Chinese, Hungarian, Portuguese, Russian and Spanish. He is co-editor of the new Oxford Series in Comparative Constitutionalism, co-editor of the Routledge Series on Comparative Constitutional Change, book reviews editor for the American Journal of Comparative Law, co-editor of I-CONnect, chair-elect of the AALS Section on Comparative Law, and a former law clerk to the Chief Justice of Canada. Richard Albert holds degrees from Yale, Oxford and Harvard.
Yaniv Roznai is a Senior Lecturer at the Radzyner School of Law, Interdisciplinary Center (IDC) Herzliya. He holds a PhD and LL.M from The London School of Economics (LSE), and LLB and BA degrees in Law and Government from the IDC. Yaniv was a Post-Doc Fellow at the University of Haifa and New York University (NYU), and a visiting researcher at Princeton University. He is the Co-Founding Chair of the Israeli Association of Legislation, and former secretary general of the Israeli Association of Public Law. His book, “Unconstitutional Constitutional Amendments – The Limits of Amendment Powers” was published in 2017 with Oxford University Press – Constitutional Theory Series.
Ryan Williams is an Assistant Professor of Law at Boston College Law School. He writes about constitutional law, focusing particularly on the original understanding and historical development of constitutional provisions. His work has appeared or is forthcoming in The Harvard Law Review, The Yale Law Journal, the Columbia Law Review, the Virginia Law Review, and the Stanford Law Review, among others. Prior to joining Boston College, Ryan was an Associate-in-Law at Columbia Law School and a Sharswood Fellow at the University of Pennsylvania Law School. He holds a J.D. from Columbia Law School.