Conference on Comparative Constitutional Design

Friday, October 16, 2009 - 9:00am - Saturday, October 17, 2009 - 2:15pm
Room V

Comparative constitutional design is a topic of increasing theoretical and practical importance, and yet the state of knowledge is still fairly rudimentary.  We still know relatively little about design processes; about the relationship of processes to outcomes; and about the consequences of particular institutional choices.  This two day conference will bring together the best minds working on comparative constitutional design from the perspectives of law, political science, and economics to present a wide range of work. 

All sessions will take place in Law School Classroom V.

Papers and the participants' schedule are attached as password-protected PDFs at the bottom of this page. Contact Tom Ginsburg at if you are a participant and need access to these papers.


Friday, October 16, 2009

9:00-10:40 a.m.        Session I 

  • Welcome by Tom Ginsburg
  • Paper: Jon Elster, Columbia University, "The Optimal Design of a Constituent Assembly" (Listen)
    • Commentator: Zachary Elkins, University of Texas at Austin School of Law
  • Paper: Adam Przeworski, New York University, "The Origins of Parliamentary Responsibility" (Listen)
    • Commentator: Beatriz Magaloni, Stanford University

11:00-12:30 p.m.     Session II

  • Paper: Barry R. Weingast, Stanford University, "Democratization and Countermajoritarian Institutions: The Role of Power and Constitutional Design In Self-Enforcing Democracy" (Listen)
    • Commentator: Roger Myerson, University of Chicago
  • Paper: Gretchen Helmke, University of Rochester, "The Origins of Institutional Crises in Latin America" (Listen)
    • Commentator: Ethan Bueno de Mesquita, University of Chicago Harris School of Public Policy
  • Chair: Peter Nardulli, University of Illinois College of Law

12:45-1:30 p.m.       Lunchtime Address in Classroom II - Judge András Sajó, European Court of Human Rights, Central European University, "The Greatest of All Reflections on Human Nature: The Constitution of Fear"

2:00-3:30 p.m.         Session III

  • Paper: Rosalind Dixon, University of Chicago Law School, and Richard Holden, University of Chicago Booth School of Business, "Designing Constitutional Amendment Rules - To Scale" (Listen)
    • Commentator:  John Ferejohn, Stanford University
  • Paper: Robert D. Cooter, UC Berkeley School of Law, "General Welfare, Interstate Commerce, and Economic Analysis" (Listen)
    • Commentator: David Strauss, University of Chicago Law School
  • Chair: Adam Samaha, University of Chicago Law School

3:50-5:20 p.m.         Session IV

  • Paper: Eric Posner, University of Chicago Law School, and Adrian Vermeule, Harvard Law School, "Tyrannophobia" (Listen)
    • Commentator: John Carey, Dartmouth College
  • Paper: John Ferejohn, Stanford University,