Erosion, Backsliding, or Abuse: Three Metaphors for Democratic Decline

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4 Scopus citations


Drawing on Rosalind Dixon and David Landau's Abusive Constitutional Borrowing: Legal Globalization and the Subversion of Liberal Democracy, this review essay calls attention to three competing metaphors for democratic decline (democratic erosion, democratic backsliding, and abusive constitutionalism) and elaborates their implications for how supporters of liberal democracy might arrest and reverse the decline. Drawing on Richard L. Hasen's Cheap Speech: How Disinformation Poisons Our Politics - And How to Cure It, Stephen M. Feldman's Pack the Court: A Defense of Supreme Court Expansion, and the Final Report of the Presidential Commission on the Supreme Court of the United States, the essay then turns to two proposals for legal and institutional reforms in the United States that, depending on how one understands the nature of the threat, might be understood either as further indications of (and even contributors to) democratic decline or as constitutional hardball in democracy's defense. It argues that scholarly treatments of democratic decline can help sharpen for citizens and policy makers the key tradeoffs implicated by Supreme Court expansion, restrictions on extremist speech, and other proposed democracy reforms.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)314-339
Number of pages26
JournalLaw and Social Inquiry
Issue number1
StatePublished - Feb 12 2023
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Social Sciences
  • Law


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