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Full-Text Articles in Political Science

History In The Making: Tunisia's Revolution, Nathaniel Greenberg May 2014

History In The Making: Tunisia's Revolution, Nathaniel Greenberg

Nathaniel Greenberg

ON THE NIGHT of January 24, 2011, I sat smoking shisha and sipping tea at a coffee shop in the downtown Cairo neighborhood of Lazoghly, just blocks from Tahrir Square. The Tunisian revolution had reached a crescendo, but there was little talk of it in this largely working-class neighborhood. With rumors spreading that protests were planned for the coming day, I asked some of the regulars if they thought Egypt could go the way of Tunisia. It was a laughable query. Egypt was too divided, they said, Mubarak too powerful. The following day seemed to confirm their skepticism. No one ...


"Simple" Takes On The Supreme Court, Robert Tsai Dec 2012

"Simple" Takes On The Supreme Court, Robert Tsai

Robert L Tsai

This essay assesses black literature as a medium for working out popular understandings of America’s Constitution and laws. Starting in the 1940s, Langston Hughes’s fictional character, Jesse B. Semple, began appearing in the prominent black newspaper, the Chicago Defender. The figure affectionately known as “Simple” was undereducated, unsophisticated, and plain spoken - certainly to a fault according to prevailing standards of civility, race relations, and professional attainment. Butthese very traits, along with a gritty experience under Jim Crow, made him not only a sympathetic figure but also an armchair legal theorist. In a series of barroom conversations, Simple ably ...


Springtime For Freedom Of Religion Or Belief: Will Newly Democratic Arab States Guarantee International Human Rights Norms Or Perpetuate Their Violation?, Robert Blitt Dec 2011

Springtime For Freedom Of Religion Or Belief: Will Newly Democratic Arab States Guarantee International Human Rights Norms Or Perpetuate Their Violation?, Robert Blitt

Robert C. Blitt

The Arab Spring has generated unprecedented and seismic political and social upheaval across the Arab world. The reasons for the outbreak of widespread and vociferous public protest are myriad, but generally understood as including long-simmering resentment of government corruption and repression, underwhelming economic development, chronic unemployment and poor respect for human rights, including the treatment of individuals and groups affiliated with political manifestations of Islam. Despite the initial drama surrounding the street rallies, two years on, the pace of change has grown fitful and uncertain. The purpose of this chapter is to consider one narrow aspect of the Arab Spring ...


The Politics Of Hate, Robert Tsai Dec 2011

The Politics Of Hate, Robert Tsai

Robert L Tsai

This is a special issue dedicated to the topic of hate and political discourse. Collectively, the peer-reviewed articles in this volume are concerned with the political aspects of hatred, i.e., psychology, motivations, organization, tactics, and ends. The articles approach the problem from a variety of disciplines, including anthropology, history, law, literature, philosophy, political science, psychology, and sociology. Among the subjects analyzed: group hatred as a heritable trait; hate as an irrational system of thought; Italian fascism's construction of the Communist other; the rise of the English Defence League and its anti-Islam activities; the persistent myth of blood libel ...


Whither Secular Bear: The Russian Orthodox Church’S Strengthening Influence On Russia's Domestic And Foreign Policy, Robert Blitt Dec 2010

Whither Secular Bear: The Russian Orthodox Church’S Strengthening Influence On Russia's Domestic And Foreign Policy, Robert Blitt

Robert C. Blitt

As 2012 presidential elections in Russia draw near, evidence points to a collapse in that country’s constitutional obligation of secularism and state-church separation. Although early signs of this phenomenon can be traced back to the Yeltsin era, the Putin and Medvedev presidencies have dealt a fatal blow to secular state policy manifested both at home and abroad, as well as to Russia’s constitutional human rights principles including nondiscrimination and equality of religious beliefs. The first part of this article argues that leadership changes in the Russian government and the Russian Orthodox Church (ROC) have triggered an unprecedented deepening ...


Aryans, Gender, And American Politics, Robert Tsai Dec 2010

Aryans, Gender, And American Politics, Robert Tsai

Robert L Tsai

This short essay discusses some of the ways in which the Aryan movement in America activates gendered beliefs for the goal of cultural, legal, and political transformation. It is drawn from "Defiant Designs: America's Forgotten Constitutions" (forthcoming, Harvard, 2012)


Russia’S 'Orthodox' Foreign Policy: The Growing Influence Of The Russian Orthodox Church In Shaping Russia’S Policies Abroad, Robert Blitt Dec 2010

Russia’S 'Orthodox' Foreign Policy: The Growing Influence Of The Russian Orthodox Church In Shaping Russia’S Policies Abroad, Robert Blitt

Robert C. Blitt

The government of Russia and the Russian Orthodox Church (ROC) - the country’s predominant religious group - recently underwent back-to-back changes in each institution’s respective leadership. This coincidence of timing has afforded a unique opportunity to reexamine the status of constitutional secularism and church-state relations in the Russian Federation. In the short space of two years, the partnership of President Dmitri Medvedev and Patriarch Kirill has further entrenched a discriminatory three-tiered status system for religious groups and - perhaps more significantly - has generated multiple new channels of influence for the ROC in Russian social and political life, including handing the Church ...


Book Review Of Beau Breslin, "From Words To Worlds: Exploring Constitutional Functionality", Robert Tsai Dec 2009

Book Review Of Beau Breslin, "From Words To Worlds: Exploring Constitutional Functionality", Robert Tsai

Robert L Tsai

This is a review of Beau Breslin's book, "From Words to Worlds: Exploring Constitutional Functionality" (Johns Hopkins, 2009). As an antidote to what he believes to be scholarly marginalization of the "unique" aspects of a written constitution, Breslin focuses attention on seven functions of such a legal text: transforming existing orders, conveying collective aspirations, designing institutions, mediating conflict, recognizing claims of subnational communities, empowering social actors, and constraining governmental authority. This review briefly critiques Breslin's functional approach and discusses two of the more pressing goals of modern constitutionalism: managing social conflict and preserving cultural heritage.


How To Entrench A De Facto State Church In Russia: A Guide In Progress, Robert Blitt Dec 2007

How To Entrench A De Facto State Church In Russia: A Guide In Progress, Robert Blitt

Robert C. Blitt

The Russian Orthodox Church's (ROC) assertion of a constitutionally inappropriate role in affairs of state has severely compromised Russia's secular constitutional framework. This gradual but steady erosion of the barrier between church and state is evidenced by a series of contemporary developments that are inexorably linked to the Church's vision of its traditional place in Russian history. Disturbingly, each successive post-communist regime has further enabled this behavior, and there is no indication that the political transition from President Vladimir Putin to his hand-picked successor, Dmitry Medvedev, will change anything. This paper argues that the emerging pattern of ...


Democracy's Handmaid, Robert Tsai Jan 2006

Democracy's Handmaid, Robert Tsai

Robert L Tsai

Democratic theory presupposes open channels of dialogue, but focuses almost exclusively on matters of institutional design writ large. The philosophy of language explicates linguistic infrastructure, but often avoids exploring the political significance of its findings. In this Article, Professor Tsai draws from the two disciplines to reach new insights about the democracy-enhancing qualities of popular constitutional language. Employing examples from the founding era, the struggle for black civil rights, the religious awakening of the last two decades, and the search for gay equality, he presents a model of constitutional dialogue that emphasizes common modalities and mobilized vernacular. According to this ...


Fire, Metaphor, And Constitutional Myth-Making, Robert Tsai Oct 2004

Fire, Metaphor, And Constitutional Myth-Making, Robert Tsai

Robert L Tsai

From the standpoint of traditional legal thought, metaphor is at best a dash of poetry adorning lawyerly analysis, and at worst an unjustifiable distraction from what is actually at stake in a legal contest. By contrast, in the eyes of those who view law as a close relative of ordinary language, metaphor is a basic building block of human understanding. This article accepts that metaphor helps us to comprehend a court’s decision. At the same time, it contends that metaphor plays a special role in the realm of constitutional discourse. Metaphor in constitutional law not only reinforces doctrinal categories ...


The System Worked: Our Schizophrenic Stance On Welfare, Robert Tsai Dec 1995

The System Worked: Our Schizophrenic Stance On Welfare, Robert Tsai

Robert L Tsai

This is a review of Steven M. Teles's book, Whose Welfare? AFDC and Elite Politics (University Press of Kansas, 1996), which argues that welfare policy reflects a dynamic of elite dissensus, in which public policy fails to reflect popular opinion. I make two central points in the review: first, there are reasons to believe that welfare policy does, in fact, reflect a deeply conflicted American electorate; and second, such a conflict may reveal a healthy deliberative order struggling to reconcile changing priorities with enduring values.