Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin - Integrative Research Institute Law & Society (LSI)

Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin | Faculty of Law | Integrative Research Institute Law & Society (LSI) | Events | Dieter Grimm (Wissenschaftskolleg zu Berlin): Popular Sovereignty as Dormant Sovereignty

Dieter Grimm (Wissenschaftskolleg zu Berlin): Popular Sovereignty as Dormant Sovereignty

  • When Jan 21, 2020 from 06:00 to 08:00
  • Where HU Berlin, Law Faculty, Raum 213
  • iCal

"Popular sovereignty" deals with the bearer of sovereignty: it is the people (as opposed to, e.g., a monarch). Yet, unlike a monarch, the people is not able to govern itself. For this, it needs representatives who govern on its behalf and according to the conditions set by it, usually in the constitution. Therefore, popular sovereignty retreats into the constituent power that is ascribed to the people. Once the constitution is in force, there are only constituted powers, no sovereign. Within the constitutional state, sovereignty is "dormant" and revives only when the existing constitution is abolished and replaced by a new one. During the existence of the constitution, it mutates to the legitimating principle of the political entity and, as such, guides the organization and exercise of political power.

Prof. em. Dr. Dr. h.c. mult. Dieter Grimm, LL.M. (Harvard) is a permanent fellow of the Wissenschaftskolleg zu Berlin and Professor emeritus for Public Law at the Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin. From 1987 to 1999 he served as justice at the Federal Constitutional Court, from 2001 to 2007 he was Rector of Wissenschaftskolleg zu Berlin. His research deals with questions surrounding the achievement of constitutionalism: the history of modern constitutionalism, constitutional theory, constitutional law - German and comparative, and constitutional adjudication, constitutionalism beyond the state (especially in the European Union, but also on the global level). He is currently writing a book on the place of Germany's constitution and of the Federal Constitutional Court and its jurisprudence in recent books on the history of the Federal Republic from the end of World War II to (and sometimes beyond) German unification.


The Lecture is part of the Bard College/LSI's Lecture Series on Popular Sovereignty.