Today, the Harvard Law & Policy Review and the Harvard Law School chapter of the American Constitution Society have the pleasure of releasing three fantastic pieces setting out progressive visions for the U.S. Constitution.
Citizenship, Personhood, and the Constitution in 2020
Rachel F. Moran
Historicizing the Executive
Eleven years ago, a set of scholars led by Professors Jack Balkin and Reva Siegel released The Constitution in 2020. This collection of essays detailed progressive agendas for constitutional law at the beginning of a hopeful area, covering subjects including reproductive rights, economic justice, voting rights, and the freedom of speech.
Now that 2020 is upon us, the state of the federal judiciary, constitutional doctrine, and even American democracy itself are on shakier ground than many could have imagined. Yet, many of the principles in The Constitution in 2020 remain as powerful as ever, ready for a new generation of progressive scholars, practitioners, and policymakers to carry them forward.
Our organizations invited back Professors Rachel Moran and Dawn Johnsen to reflect on their contributions to The Constitution in 2020, the influence of the broader project, and contemporary prospects for positive constitutional change. We are also thrilled to have Professor Bernadette Meyler add a thoughtful new voice to these issues.
Professor Moran finds many of the worries she described in her 2009 chapter, Terms of Belonging, were vindicated: The citizenship agenda many progressive scholars were advancing a decade ago could just as easily be a sword for reactionaries to wield against immigrant communities and communities of color and a tool to push back on globalism in favor of nationalist impulses. She builds upon her earlier call to root a vision of an inclusive society in personhood, rather than citizenship—an idea that recent years show is all too dearly needed. You can read her full article here.
Professor Johnsen remarks upon the shocking attacks on abortion access, the right to contraception, and even the rule of law in the decade following her 2009 chapter, A Progressive Reproductive Rights Agenda for 2020. These developments stand as grim testaments to the success of conservatives’ decades-long campaign to shift constitutional meaning radically to the right. In response, Johnsen redoubles her calls for progressives to avoid a myopic focus on the judiciary and to advance a comprehensive reproductive rights agenda for all. You can read her full article here.
Finally, Professor Meyler provides a timely contribution to the literature on the original understanding of executive power in America. Her piece reflects on the near-total exclusion of executive power from the topics explored in The Constitution in 2020, and illustrates that self-avowed conservative originalists have embraced the theory of a unitary executive despite contrary historical evidence. Furthermore, she calls for an overdue expansion of historically grounded scholarship setting out a theory of executive power more resistant to forces of populism and tyrannical abuses of power. You can read her full article here.