Cosmopolitanism in Constitutional Law
On Thursday, April 11, Vlad Perju, director of the Clough Center for Constitutional Democracy and associate professor of law at Boston College, joined us to discuss his recent work on cosmopolitanism and constitutional law. He began by outlining the ways in which globalization has led to some international legal convergences among, for example, bills of rights and approaches to the issue of “open standing.” Nations that share the same basic constitutional principles are more likely to interact peaceably with one another, he argued, because they open a door for further exchange of democratic ideas and institutions. This in turn makes it more likely that these nations will incorporate elements of international law in their domestic constitutions.
Drawing upon the theory of cosmopolitanism Immanuel Kant detailed in his famous essay “Perpetual Peace,” Perju argued that constitutional convergence can support the creation of a cosmopolitan order. Kant’s theory rest upon three propositions: that all nations should have republican constitutions; that republican states are more likely to embrace a non-coercive supranational federation; and that these states are more likely to behave hospitably towards their neighbors. Since republics share the values of equality and self-government, these states can more peaceably interact, thus creating a dynamic exchange of ideas for domestic constitutions.
In the wide-ranging discussion that followed, audience members queried Perju about the state of international law in American jurisprudence, the future of Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban’s efforts at constitutional reform, and the perceived weaknesses of Kantian cosmopolitanism today.