Greetings from Salzburg, Austria! My wife and I are having a grand time in this beautiful city, surely one of the most charming in the world. “This is what happens when you combine great wealth, clerical density, and gorgeous mountains,” exclaimed Stephanie happily as we sipped mulled wine tonight beneath the arches of an old monastery, huddling together as the snow fell lightly on the cobbled streets. We arrived here yesterday from Hannover, sped to our destination by the miracle of an Intercity Express train.
This morning I taught the first of three intensive classes on U.S. constitutional law at the University of Salzburg, and before another day goes by, I wanted to share an interesting fact about the students in my class: most of them aren’t Austrian. Instead, in addition to three Austrian students, they hail from Poland, Slovenia, Croatia, the Czech Republic, Latvia, and Wales—all participants in the Erasmus student exchange program. It’s another instance I’ve encountered on my travels of a new way of legal thinking slowly being born within multi-national Europe.
I saw it in the gleaming halls of Erasmus University in Rotterdam, where I talked with faculty and students from the Netherlands, Germany, Italy, Romania, Poland, Turkey, and Albania. I saw it in Brussels, where the office of legal advisor to the European Parliament includes lawyers from every EU member state. I saw it in Würzburg, where my students included Germans from migrant backgrounds, most notably from Azerbaijan, with which the law school has a history of educational exchange. And I saw it this morning in a dramatic way here in Salzburg. The parallel that comes to my own mind repeatedly is the transformation of the law of England after the Norman Conquest—the development of a new law, a new outlook, and ultimately a new people, under changed political and institutional circumstances. Read the rest of this entry »