Abstract 3/15: Sabine Mischner (University of Freiburg) – The Temporalities of Exception

#StatEx2017
#StatEx2017

In my paper, I argue that one should take a closer look at the temporalities the ‘state of exception’. In the rhetoric legitimizing a state of exception, it is usually a clean-cut periodization that is implied. I will show that this implicit proposition is fundamentally flawed. As a case study, I analyze the American Civil War during which the extent of presidential war powers has been vigorously tested, setting precedents whose repercussions can still be felt today. While some aspects of this story are specific to the political system of the USA, others do offer general insights into the functioning of states of exception.

Periodization: The Temporal Argument. States of exceptions are oftentimes introduced by suggesting a clear periodization, consisting of three stages: before – during – after. Explaining why the Lincoln administration had deliberately suspended and actively ignored several constitutional protections of imprisoned civilians, officials claimed that these protections “in truth, are all peace provisions of the Constitution and, like all other conventional and legislative laws and enactments, are silent amidst arms, and then the safety of the people becomes the supreme law”. In short, a temporal argument was used to legitimize extraordinary deviations from the constitution.

The Long Shadow of Emergency Measures. The American Civil War provides three insight-ful examples of how a state cannot simply return to the status quo ante. – (1) Enduring Legacies. The steps actually taken to secure the safety of the Union received much scholarly attention and incited numerous debates. It is beyond doubt that Lincoln and his administration decisively shaped the American state(s), be it politically, fiscally, economically, socially or culturally. The laws, decrees and proclamations that elicited these changes were enacted in a democratic setting, yet often the result of the special war powers of the president. Thus, the legacies of the state of exception endured far longer than the war lasted. The same is true for the US and other countries in the First and Second World Wars. Therefore, the periodization mentioned above does not hold, since the ‘afterwards’ was immensely shaped by the ‘during’ und thus could never have been the same as ‘before’. – (2) Setting Precedents. Similarly, every exceptional action taken sets a precedent for later states of exception. In the case of the American Civil War, the US Supreme Court rulings largely sanctioned Lincoln’s extraordinary measures. Also, it basically declined to even assess the question of what might be appropriate under exceptional circumstances, arguing that this appraisal is political, not judicial, paving the way for decades of similar judicial evasions. Thus, it was Lincoln who set precedents, not the courts. – (3) Continuing War Powers. Finally, it should be noted that according to a common interpretation of the American constitution, the president’s war powers extend way beyond the actual emergency, the end of which, again, courts would not assess. In sum, the temporal argument advanced to legitimize the exception can only be called fictional, insofar as the actual timeframes connected to the state of exception endured far longer than was implied.

Abstract 2/15: Ewa Atanassow (Bard College Berlin), Ira Katznelson (Columbia University) – Governing emergency? State of Exception in the Anglo-American Liberal Tradition

#StatEx2017
#StatEx2017

How should constitutional democracies navigate current problems of security? Presently, the globe’s established liberal democracies face almost no threat to their borders. Nevertheless, they have been confronted with pervasive insecurity and anxieties about appropriate responses, which has led to unprecedented delegation to and strengthening of executive power. This situation raises pressing questions about the conditions required to enlarge the zone of security without an undue sacrifice of liberal values and institutions, whose hallmarks include embedded constraints on the decisions and acts taken by political authorities in order to safeguard the liberties of citizens.

Probing the Anglo-American tradition of liberal political thought and practice, our contribution will seek to identify conceptual and practical approaches for meeting security challenges without compromising constitutional and ethical principles. Our inquiry will proceed in three parts. 1) The first aims to show that, from its founding moments, political liberalism confronted central puzzles associated with the state of exception, and elaborated a significant repertoire of ideas, impulses, and institutions that remain instructive. 2) Against the backdrop of this lineage, whose central figures include John Locke and Alexander Hamilton, in part two we examine the work of interwar and post-war twentieth century American political scientists Carl Friedrich, his Harvard doctoral student Frederick Watkins, and Clinton Rossiter who forged a liberal response to Carl Schmitt. Individually and as a coherent group, these scholars sought to place emergency responses within the ambit of the restraining qualities of law. They thus revisited and deepened a genuinely liberal approach to emergency. 3) Sketching the historical and political developments since the mid-twentieth century, we conclude by assessing the advantages and limitations of these liberal resources for dealing with contemporary security dilemmas.

The paper thus weaves together conceptual and historical vantages with policy considerations. Although manifestly of broader significance, it focuses primarily on the United States and Great Britain as the longest standing and most continuous examples of constitutional regimes struggling with these questions. As both countries have possessed disproportionate global power and have faced security issues with magnified intensity and scope, each has generated much experimentation in thought and institutional arrangements pertaining to the governance of emergency. These experiences and their lessons, we argue, have wide applicability.

Conference 2017: Paperroom and Hashtag

Conference 2017.
Conference 2017.

The paperroom for the 2017 conference on state of exception is now open. It contains the abstracts of the conference contributions as they are listed in the program. Full papers will be added in November 2017.

The conference hashtag on twitter and social media will be #StatEx2017. Please refer to that hashtag for any issues related to the conference.

For any other questions, please contact emergency@dhi-paris.fr.

Travel Grants for State of Emergency Conference 2017

Conference 2017.
Conference 2017.

The Minerva Center for „The Rule of Law under Extreme Conditions“ (Hamburg / Haifa) just announced, that it will support the State of Emergency-Conference 2017 with two travel grants. These grants will allow paper-givers to present their reflections on state of emergency issues during our conference here in Paris. They are of a remarkable importance for allowing a vivid scientific exchange and debates.

If you have any questions regarding the conference, please contact emergency@dhi-paris.fr.

Preliminary Program out now

Conference 2017.
Conference 2017.

The preliminary program of the State of emergency Conference 2017 at the German Historical Institute Paris and the Goethe Institute Paris has been published today. To check the program and any other detail on the conference, please go to the conference website.

The program will be updated regularly. Abstracts of each of the contributions will be made available in the weeks to come. For any questions, please contact emergency@dhi-paris.fr.

Program update – „Endstation Bataclan“

Conference 2017.
Conference 2017.

With support of the Goethe Institute in Paris, the conference will host a presentation of „Endstation Bataclan“ (Terminus Bataclan), a french-german documentary on Samy Amimour, one of the terrorists involved in the attack on the Bataclan theatre. Amimour was a busdriver on the RATP suburban line 148. In the film, Alexander Smoltczyk and Maurice Weiss follow the itinery of the bus through the northern suburbs of Paris. They meet with many different people, giving a profound insight into a variety of microcosms between the stations Le Blanc-Mesnil / Musée de l’Air et de l’Espace and Bobigny – Pablo Picasso. According to current planning, Smoltczyk and Weiss will give a short introduction and there will be opportunity for discussion afterwards. „Endstation Bataclan“ will be shown in French with English subtitles at the Goethe Institute Paris, Avenue d’Iéna, 75116 Paris.