My friends at the libertarian Niskanen Center kindly gave me a forum to meditate on the President’s recent executive order about immigration. The post is here. The think tank has been publishing terrific critiques of the administration from a libertarian and center-right perspective, though it’s contributors are wonderfully hard to classify, forging a new political and ideological space—do keep an eye on these folks!
Archive for the ‘Constitutional law’ Category
I’m pleased to share the latest video from my developing film about law and landscape in Austria. This segment is called “Florian & Friends Talk about Purity”:
The video is about water, water law, Austrian identity, legal philosophy, concepts of the state, ideas of the public, approaches to time and tradition, metaphor, and some great old books. Plus, there’s a cameo appearance by a sweet Alpine cow.
Why is a basic doctrine of Austrian constitutional law named after one of the central features of the Austrian landscape? A conversation with two far-flung Austrian legal scholars:
This video will be incorporated into my film “Wood, Water, Stone, Sky, Milk,” which grew out of the semester I spent in Salzburg as a Fulbright scholar.
Greetings from Austria, where I’m spending the semester as a Fulbright scholar at the law school of the University of Salzburg. My wife and I have had a grand time getting to know this beautiful city and the mountains and valleys of the nearby Salzkammergut. If you’d like to find us, we’re living in a little baroque garret right about here:
Just behind that blue dot, up a sheer cliff, is the house where the author Stefan Zweig used to live, so we’ve been thinking a lot about The World Before Yesterday—and, in an American spirit, about the director Wes Anderson, too. Across the river is the Salzburg old town, with its winding cobblestone streets, and our favorite bakery, and our favorite butcher, with its staff who wave to us warmly on the street when they see us walk by. Read the rest of this entry »
When I was in Europe last November, I asked a group of legal professionals some unusual questions. The results are in my new video.
After many weeks abroad, I’m back in the United States, and by coincidence this weekend I watched a movie that reminded me of just what it means to be home. The reminder came in the unexpected form of Deanna Durbin, the girl-next-door Hollywood star of the 1930s and 1940s. I didn’t anticipate that her last film, the romantic comedy For the Love of Mary (1948), would have so much to say about the culture of American constitutional law.
As readers of this blog and subscribers to my Facebook page know, in mid-November I flew to Europe to speak about The Rule of the Clan (which will be released in just two months by Farrar, Straus and Giroux), to teach some intensive seminars about the American constitution to European students, and most of all to begin research on my next book.
In the spirit of Jules Verne, the working title of Book #4 is Around the World in Eighty Laws. I’m hoping to reveal some of the beauty, complexity, and fragility of our world through a portrait of its diverse legal systems. I want to show the fundamentally different ways people understand the meaning and purpose of law. I’m also hoping that in the process I’ll be able to raise some basic, hard questions about our ability to get along with one another and with other nations as we respond to globalization.
My travels began at Erasmus University in Rotterdam and ended in Vienna. In between, with Eurail Pass in hand, I visited Maastricht, Tilburg, Luxembourg, Brussels, Würzburg, Hannover, and Salzburg, taking pictures and conducting interviews as I went—trying to channel the spirit of one of my heroes, David Attenborough. It was grand. I also found that I could easily continue an itinerant life indefinitely.
I’ll be posting reflections on my travels and excerpts from my interviews in the coming weeks, especially once I return to my desk in Connecticut.
My European travels naturally got me thinking about what it was I left behind. And that’s why I was so taken with For the Love of Mary. In its lightness of spirit—and in Durbin’s unpretentious style and clear soprano—it captures something essential about the legal self-understanding of my country. Read the rest of this entry »
My new post is entirely in video format. It’s a short conversation with an Argentinean scholar about constitutional law in his country, including some differences between law there and in the United States. Our conversation touches on affirmative action, gay marriage, voter identification, and economic regulation, among other important issues. My wife says it’s fascinating, and I hope you’ll agree.
To watch, just click on the thumbnail below, or to see it in larger format (which I’d recommend), click above on the title of this post and then click again on the video window:
As hurricane Sandy bore down on the eastern seaboard, my wife and I thought that the best distraction from the howling wind and crack of breaking branches would be to curl up and watch movies. It didn’t take long for us to settle on Alfred Hitchcock.
And so after we made up our inflatable bed in the living room—the safest place, we figured, if one of the tall trees in the backyard crashed through the roof—and brought up our emergency kit from the basement—stove, check; fuel, check; tent, check; food and water, check—we unfurled the projector screen we normally use to display academic PowerPoint slides, made a bowl of buttered popcorn, and poured ourselves a beer.
All things considered, it seemed like the sort of thing that one would want to have been doing in the final moments before disaster.
Here’s a picture of our outpost in the storm:
The film on the screen is “North by Northwest”—there’s Carry Grant furtively walking through Penn Station.
Now that we’ve come through the storm safe and sound (a miracle), in this post I’d like to pull on a small thread in the film we saw last night, “Rear Window.” It’s a legal thread, and one that also happens to be entwined with an environmental theme.
There’s not much we can do for our friends in New York and New Jersey, who faired much worse than we did, but if they are able to read it, perhaps this distraction will be welcome. Read the rest of this entry »