Political Science

Why Should Speech Be Free?

Timothy Garton Ash— The fact that most states in the world have signed international treaties guaranteeing freedom of expression, and make such promises in their constitutions, does not answer the question: why should speech be free? As soon as we start trying to hold governments to their word, or debate

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Closing the Courthouse Doors to Challenges to the Trump Presidency

Erwin Chemerinsky— The first weeks of the Trump presidency demonstrate that the federal judiciary must be available as an essential check to enforce the Constitution. Already many lawsuits have been filed against President Trump and his administration, such as for violating the “emoluments clauses” of the Constitution, for the travel

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An International Women’s Day Reading List

Today is International Women’s Day, a day to honor the women who have fought for political and social equality around the world. But even as we celebrate the courage, creativity, and resolve of women, we recognize that equality has not been attained, and we must all work together to achieve

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William Shakespeare: Political Commentator

Peter Lake— It is, of course, notoriously difficult to say anything novel, or even arrestingly interesting, about Shakespeare. In fact, I never intended to write a book about Shakespeare at all. But I fell into a set of questions and interests that resulted in a book, if not simply by accident, then at

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Remembering the 1967 Six-Day War

Guy Laron— Are wars the result of accidents, compounded by misassessments, misunderstandings, and miscalculations? If this is true, there is no one to blame; according to this view, wars simply happen. But perhaps wars are born out of meticulous and willful planning by individuals and institutions that might benefit from war. If

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A Brief History of American Exceptionalism

Burton Mack— “American exceptionalism,” a term that is currently making the rounds among journalists, denotes those features of American self-understanding that distinguish it from other modern societies, especially European nation-states. Most of the features of note are characteristics familiar to most Americans with some sense of our history and the history of

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The Heart of the Abolitionist Movement

Manisha Sinha— Caricatured as unthinking, single-minded fanatics who caused a “needless war,” abolitionists are often compared unfavorably to political moderates and compromise-minded statesmen. Their resurrection as freedom fighters during the modern civil rights era has been relatively brief. It is often dismissed as neoabolitionist history. While a bland celebration of

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Groundwater: Overpumped, Undervalued, and Essential to Water and Food Security

William M. Alley and Rosemarie Alley— Groundwater is the source of drinking water for about half the world’s people, as well as the dominant source of household water in rural areas. Many large cities depend solely or largely on groundwater. Groundwater is also critical to food production, providing more than

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Trump, Putin, and the Uncertainty of U.S. Foreign Policy

Constantine Pleshakov— Barack Obama will be remembered fondly for a great number of things, but his foreign policy isn’t one of them. For all intents and purposes, the administration ran the “you break it, you run” shop: choose a foreign country that you understand the least, go in and turn

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The Substance of the Constitution: Rights, Structures, Conventions

Mark Tushnet— Donald Trump’s election and the first weeks of his presidency show us some of the ways in which the Constitution matters. When trying to understand how our constitutional system works, I like to identify three “parts” of the Constitution: rights, structures, and conventions. It’s easiest to focus our

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