2024 Bissel-Heyd Symposium - American Constitutionalism in Crisis?

May 9-10, 2024
Centre for the Study of the United States, Government & politics, North America

This event is over

This event was held at the Campbell Conference Facility, 1 Devonshire Place, Toronto, ON, M5S 3K7
As the United States hurtles towards the 2024 presidential election, the integrity of its constitutional system faces serious questions. The last several years alone have brought both jurisprudential revolution and legislative gridlock; democratic backsliding and enervated governance; deepening partisan division and disappearing common ground; an attempted insurrection and protracted efforts to hold those responsible to account. In turn, these challenges have fuelled a range of proposed solutions, from disempowering the Supreme Court and bolstering electoral democracy to retrenching national power and reviving an assertive federalism. Against this fraught backdrop, the 2024 Bissell-Heyd Symposium probed the question raised by these developments: Is American constitutionalism in crisis? Engaging this topic requires clarifying what crisis entails, as well as identifying both past cases and present causes of constitutional infirmity. Animated by the conviction that such questions are best answered by situating contemporary American constitutional politics within both historical and comparative context, the symposium featured three keynote speakers: Maggie Blackhawk (New York University Law School), Jonathan Gienapp (Stanford University), and Rogers Smith (University of Pennsylvania). These addresses were complemented by a series of thematic panels probing the meaning, history, and dimensions of constitutional crisis.
Thursday, May 9
3:00pm-3:15pm Introduction
3:15pm-4:45pm Panel 1: What is Constitutional Crisis?
 Connor Ewing, University of Toronto
 Ran Hirschl, University of Toronto
 Victoria Nourse, Georgetown University Law Center
4:45pm-5:00pm Break
5:00pm-6:30pm Keynote 1: “America’s Conflicting Constitutional Visions: The Quest for Common Ground,” Rogers Smith, University of Pennsylvania
Friday, May 10
8:30am-9:00am Breakfast
9:00am-10:20am Panel 2: Constitutional Crisis in Historical Perspective
 Zachary Elkins, University of Texas at Austin
 Max Mishler, University of Toronto
 Emily Zackin, Johns Hopkins University
10:20am-10:30am Break
10:30am-12:00pm Keynote 2: “The Constitution of American Colonialism,” Maggie Blackhawk, NYU Law School
12:00pm-1:00pm Lunch & Break
1:00pm-2:20pm Panel 3: Dimensions of Crisis
 Yasmin Dawood, University of Toronto
 Rob Goodman, Toronto Metropolitan University
 Robert Schertzer, University of Toronto
2:20pm-2:30pm Break
2:30pm-4:00pm Keynote 3: “The Crisis of History in U.S. Constitutional Interpretation,” Jonathan Gienapp, Stanford University
 Organized by the Centre for the Study of the United States, Munk School of Global Affairs & Public Policy at the University of Toronto. Co-sponsored by the Department of Political Science, the David R. Cameron Distinguished Professorship in Law and Politics and the Munk School of Global Affairs & Public Policy.
Centre for the Study of the United States, Government & politics, North America
Sophie Bourret-Klein