Sujit Choudhry On Ways to Safeguard Democracy

Sujit Choudhry is a professor at the UC Berkley School of Law who has extensive knowledge of constitutional law and constitution building. He has written more than 90 articles, book chapters and reports on constitutional issues on a national and international level (works.bepress.com).

In a recent chapter, Sujit Choudhry discussed a statement made by Eric Holder, Attorney General under former President Obama. Holder asserted on Twitter that if Robert Mueller should be fired or his investigative department compromised, it would be important for the American people to speak out forcefully and peacefully to defend the investigation and demand that it be allowed to proceed to completion.

A Threaten Integrity

According to Choudhry, when the integrity of a country’s constitution is threatened by internal forces, it is the responsibility of the people to stand up publicly and speak out fearlessly to hold the guilty parties accountable and demand restitution.

Sujit Choudhry describes other circumstances that could constitute a constitutional crisis. In the USA and other countries, a president can only serve two terms in office. Choudhry said an authoritarian leader might try to violate this term limit by declaring a state of emergency, disbanding the legislature, or suspending elections.

This abuse of power to stay in office is described by Sujit Choudhry as a ‘self-coup’ or autogolpe. Related to the above would be a ‘coup d’etat’ or military overthrow of the government. Lastly, a constitutional crisis is formed when electoral fraud is used to stay in office, giving unconstitutional seizure of power the look of legality.

Sujit Choudhry explains that democracy is made of many small parts. We might think of it as a puzzle put together a single piece at a time. Like a puzzle, it can also be taken apart piece by piece. If a democracy is destroyed, it will not be with one sudden blow, but with many small hammers chipping away at the foundations.

The final admonition given by Choudhry is that courts must be willing to call autocracy by name. There can be no democracy unless the people’s voices are heard. By calling out authoritarians and opposing autocracy, justice can be upheld and the American people can be both seen and heard.

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Related link:  http://sujitchoudhry.com/about/