States of Emergency in Liberal Democracies

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9780511596704: States of Emergency in Liberal Democracies

In an emergency, statesmen concentrate power and suspend citizens' rights. These emergency powers are ubiquitous in the crisis government of liberal democracies, but their nature and justification is poorly understood. Based on a pluralist conception of political ethics and political power, this book shows how we can avoid the dangers and confusions inherent in the norm/exception approach that dominates both historical and contemporary debate. The book shows how liberal values need never - indeed must never - be suspended, even in times of urgency. Only then can accountability remain a live possibility. But at the same time, emergency powers can sometimes be justified with reference to extra-liberal norms that also operate in times of normalcy. By emphasizing the continuity between times of normalcy and emergency, the book illuminates the norms of crisis government, broadening our understanding of liberal democratic government and of political ethics in the process.

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'There are few problems more important in the present constitutional universe than those surrounding the notion of 'emergency powers'. Nomi Lazar has written an outstanding book, with particularly helpful analyses both of the Roman dictatorship and of the thought of the most important theorist of the consequences of emergencies, Carl Schmitt. It deserves wide readership and discussion.' Sanford Levinson, University of Texas at Austin

'Challenging theorists who contend that emergencies require the suspension of ordinary legality and theorists who contend that liberal theory cannot tolerate deviations from ordinary legality even during emergencies, Nomi Claire Lazar integrates emergencies into a pluralist liberalism, in which informal norms and especially politics of an ordinary sort regulate the exercise of power during emergencies. Her thoughtful and provocative thesis is an important contribution to scholarship on emergencies and liberalism.' Mark Tushnet, Harvard Law School

'This important and timely work argues that emergency powers should not be regarded as 'exceptions' from norms, but rather should be understood as continuous with the normative structure in liberal democracies. Lazar takes issue both with 'norm/exception' dichotomists who leave emergency powers morally unmoored, and with those liberals who reject their use even at the risk of state collapse. Instead, Lazar forcefully demonstrates that emergency powers can be compatible with liberal democracies, insofar as these regimes recognize order as a fundamental value in society and accept quotidian rights derogations for its sake. Drawing on historical examples, classic works in political thought, and contemporary legal and political theory, States of Emergency in Liberal Democracies is essential reading for scholars interested in the nature and institutional form of emergency powers.' Melissa Schwartzberg, Columbia University

'The book encourages us to actively discuss and evaluate emergencies and the use of emergency powers on both an ex ante and an ex post facto basis.' Redescriptions

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In an emergency, statesmen concentrate power and suspend citizens' rights. This book shows that these emergency powers reflect a plurality of norms and of modes of power that are continuous between normalcy and emergency. Recognizing this shows how liberal-democratic values can remain in force, even in times of urgency.

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