Last month, the University of Chicago hosted a Conference on Constitutions in Authoritarian Regimes. Alas, we did not have a paper on Iran, but it seems that constitutional politics in the world’s favorite theocracy are heating up. Indeed, Iran may be exhibit A for the idea that constitutional politics involve significant stakes even in dictatorships.
Some readers may know that I have an occasional interest in the role of courts in authoritarian regimes. There is a wonderful quote in today’s NYTimes from Iranian “opposition” leader Mehdi Karroubi, who has been threatened with trial at a special court for clergy. The concept of this special court is itself interesting: the court