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2019 AALS News 1 (2019)

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Winter   2019

Presidential Address  - 2019  AALSAnnual Meeti

   Pillars:of*Democrcy: Law,

        Rersnttoand. Knowi-%v1e
Second Meetin       of the, _, A\ALSHos
of Representatives

.AA   SPrident   Vickit

Harvard Law School

Thlank   you   so  mnuch,
   WVendy, and   all my
friends and colleagues in
this room and in the AALS,
including my Executive
Committee colleagues,
mny  fellow officers, and
Judy Areen, our Executive
Director, for this oppor-     -
tunity to serve as AALS
President I am honored and
humnbled. I also want to thank my spouse, Bob Taylor, for
his loving support, and the superb AALS staff, who do so
much to assure smooth functioning of this meeting.

Wendy Perdue's themne, building bridges across increased
polarization, is not just for her year but for our era. Today,
I want to extend her engineering metaphor, to discuss the
role of legal education in strengthening the pillars of U.S.
constitutional democracy.

Is our constitutional democracy at risk?
After all, we continue to have regular elec-
tions; civilian courts checking the govern-
merit and deciding private disputes; strong
voices of public contestation-----and law
schools that, in recent decades, have become
more inclusive, and encouraging of public
interest and public service work. But consti-
tutional democracy can be put in jeopardy in
different ways-by a single dramatic act of
rupture-or, I worry, by a concurrent weak-
ening of its pillars. I discuss three: first, law
and its institutions, second. elections arid
representation, and third, the knowledge
institutions of which we, as law faculty, are
a part.

With respect to the rule of law. more countries in the world
are declining, rather than improving, especially in human
rights, checks on government powers, and civil and criminal
justice. This is according to 2018 Rule of Law Index, a
Project begun by the ABA. This decline on the Rule of Law
index includes the US., which now sees scholarly book titles
like How Democracies Die, [How to Save a Constitutional
democracy, or Constitutional Democracy in Crisis?] In
Hungary and Poland, formerly independent courts have
become much  less so. What becomes normalized in one
                                continued on page 3

AALS  Executive
Director's  Report

2019  AALS  Clinical
Conference:   A New  Look

AALS  Seeks
Associate  Director


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