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Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin - Prof. Dr. Anna-Bettina Kaiser

Academic Classes

The following selection contains Prof. Dr. Kaiser's English courses. For a complete list of her academic classes, please consult the German website.

Summer term 2021

10625 Executives and Emergencies: Normative, Legal, and Empirical Transatlantic Perspectives

Prof. Dr. Anna-Bettina Kaiser (HU, Law Faculty), Prof. Dr. Jan-Werner Müller (Princeton), Prof. Dr. Silvia von Steinsdorff (HU, Political Science)

It is frequently asserted that emergencies are best addressed by powerful executives: the latter are said to be able to act faster, to have more information, and also to exhibit what American observers, following Hamilton, sometimes call "institutional energy". There is also the view that executives might have to suspend normal legal provisions and either adhere to special rules designed for an exception or operate in a legal vacuum (with the proviso that they will eventually be held accountable for their conduct). The challenges posed by such understandings of emergencies and exceptions to theories of liberal democracy has been debated extensively with respect to the "global war on terror"; the 2020 pandemic has prompted new questions as to what happens to the separation of powers and fundamental rights when executives address a health emergency (and more, specifically, how much power legislatures can legitimately delegate to the executive); less obviously, there has also been the concern that executive failure might amount to a violation of a fundamental right to health. As with other emergencies, there is, finally, the question whether it is institutional checks, or more informal political ones that ultimately prevent executive overreach (or underreach, for the matter).

The course sits at the intersection of political theory, comparative constitutional law, and comparative politics. It will examine important transatlantic differences in how the separation of powers and fundamental rights are understood in "exceptional times"; and who is responsible and accountable in systems of multi-level governance; moreover, it will, from a normative and empirical point, study conceptions of a "post-Madisonian" executive as the critiques of such conceptions that have been offered in the past two decades or so. The course will also examine the actual empirical track record of different types of executives when it comes to addressing emergencies.

Readings:

Paul Kahn and Miguel Poiares Maduro (eds.), Democracy in Times of Pandemic (Cambridge UP, 2020), especially chapters by Walker and Moyn
Anna-Bettina Kaiser, Ausnahmeverfassungsrecht, 2020

Organisation:

A preliminary meeting will take place on Tuesday, 9 March 2021 at 10.00 a.m. via Zoom. You will find the Zoom link in the course catalogue.

The interdisciplinary and international block course will take place on 18, 19, and 20 June 2021. Course language is English.

Summer term 2020

10625 Democratic and Constitutional Resilience

Prof. Dr. Anna-Bettina Kaiser (HU, Law Faculty), Prof. Dr. Jan-Werner Müller (Princeton), Prof. Dr. Silvia von Steinsdorff (HU, Political Science)

Democracies have been under stress worldwide. We ask which resources democracies can muster to defend themselves against rising authoritarianism.

At the end of the course, students will be familiar with a range of crucial debates about democratic self-defense at the intersection of law, political and legal theory, and intelectual history. They will also have a sense of different approaches to these debates in Europe and the United States. Lastly, they will be able effectively to draw on some of the key positions of scholars working in the area of comparative constitutional law.

Summer term 2019

10 612 Free Speech: Transatlantic Normative and Empirical Perspectives

Prof. Dr. Anna-Bettina Kaiser (HU, Law Faculty), Prof. Dr. Jan-Werner Müller (Princeton), Prof. Dr. Silvia von Steinsdorff (HU, Political Science)

Free speech has been increasingly controversial in recent years.  For some it is both a core liberal principle and an indispensable aspect of democracy, for others it has become a cover for conduct that deeply violates human dignity, that of minorities in particular.  In this interdisciplinary course, we examine the general normative underpinnings of free speech and the different forms that the legal (and specifically constitutional) operationalization of free speech has taken in the United States and Europe, Germany in particular.  The US and Germany are often taken as paradigmatic examples of a more libertarian versus a “dignitarian” approach to free speech: we investigate to what extent that contrast is justified and also ask how the seemingly so different traditions of thinking about free speech have evolved.  Finally, we look at free speech in the context of urgent contemporary challenges: how have free speech and the institutional infrastructure underpinning it (such as media pluralism) come under threat in so-called “illiberal” regimes that are dismantling democracy and the rule of law?  And how should speech on the internet be regulated, if at all?  Here again we will have an opportunity to weigh the advantages of a more restrictive approach, as in Germany, and a so far relatively lax stance by the American state.

At the end of the course, students will be familiar with a range of crucial debates at the intersection of law, political and legal theory, and intellectual history.  They will also have a sense of different approaches to these debates in Europe and the United States.  Lastly, they will be able effectively to draw on some of the key positions of scholars working in the area of comparative constitutional law.

Summer term 2018

10 612 Constitutionalism and Rebellion, Resistance, Dissent

Prof. Dr. Anna-Bettina Kaiser (HU, Law Faculty), Prof. Dr. Jan-Werner Müller (Princeton), Prof. Dr. Silvia von Steinsdorff (HU, Political Science)

Recent years have seen the rise of autocratic legalism and deep conflicts within – as opposed to officially against – liberal democratic constitutional states.  Does what Ginsburg and Huq have called “constitutional regression” justify traditional approaches of civil disobedience?  Or does it call for something stronger?  Then again, is a right to resist not a left-over from pre-modern times, a way of thinking that has no place within modern constitutions – even ones under conditions of decay and backsliding – at all?

Summer term 2016

10626 State of Exception / Ausnahmezustand (Englisch)

A.-B. Kaiser, G. Metzler, J.-W. Müller

Are states of exception still exceptional? One could doubt it, if we look at current debates and developments: existential governmental crises and states of exception have become buzz words. But what’s behind these buzz words? This seminar aims at exploring the topic “state of exception“ by looking at it through different lenses: historical, legal, comparative, and policy lenses will form a bigger, interdisciplinary picture. The legal perspective will comprise both a doctrinal and a socio-legal perspective, and the comparative perspective will link back to the historical one: it will be both synchronical and diachronical, i.e. comparative over time. A co-operation between the HU Law Faculty (Prof. Dr. Anna-Bettina Kaiser), the HU Department of History (Prof. Dr. Gabriele Metzler), and the Department of Politics at Princeton University (Prof. Dr. Jan-Werner Müller) makes possible this interdisciplinary approach towards the state of exception as a multi-layered phenomenon.

The seminar addresses questions such as the origin of the state of exception as a legal instrument, its development in 19 th century France and Prussia, and its grave abuse in Weimar Germany, where emergency decrees finally lead to a permanent state of exception during the Nazi period. With a specific normative focus, the seminar will analyse the respective requirements of the U.S. and current French and German constitutions (Notstandsverfassung) for dealing with states of exception. How do the aforementioned constitutions cope with modern threats such as terrorism? What role do courts play? And how do rules emanating from the conception of militant democracy (Wehrhafte Demokratie) interact with the instrument “state of exception“? Termed as a policy question: Is the conception – and in Germany the rules – of militant democracy an illiberal antagonism? Or is it an indispensable tool in future challenges for constitutional democracies?

The seminar wants to examine these and further questions. Seminar participants will – if possible – form interdisciplinary and international teams of two to jointly work on a presentation. The seminar will be supplemented by an optional workshop which will take place on either 11 or 12 July 2016 at Humboldt University.