Kim Lane Scheppele

Laurance S. Rockefeller Professor of Sociology
and International Affairs and the University
Center for Human Values.
Email Address:
Office Location: 
118 Wallace Hall

Kim Lane Scheppele is the Laurance S. Rockefeller Professor of Sociology and International Affairs in The Princeton School of Public and International Affairs and the University Center for Human Values as well as Director of the Program in Law and Public Affairs at Princeton University. She joined the Princeton faculty in 2005 after nearly a decade on the faculty of the University of Pennsylvania School of Law, where she was the John J. O'Brien Professor of Comparative Law. Scheppele's work focuses on the intersection of constitutional and international law, particularly in constitutional systems under stress. After 1989, Scheppele studied the emergence of constitutional law in Hungary and Russia, living in both places for extended periods. After 9/11, Scheppele researched the effects of the international "war on terror" on constitutional protections around the world. Her many publications on both post-1989 constitutional transitions and on post-9/11 constitutional challenges have appeared in law reviews, social science journals and multiple languages. In the last two years, she has been a public commentator on the transformation of Hungary from a constitutional-democratic state to one that risks breaching constitutional principles of the European Union.

What Makes Constitutions Work?

Functioning, written constitutions have only been widespread in the world in the last half century and, even now, more constitutions fail than succeed. What happens to constitutions under stress, when they are challenged by forces that might destroy them? Since the collapse of state socialism in Eastern Europe, I have been trying to answer this question by doing fieldwork Hungary and Russia, two countries with new constitutions but with very different levels of constitutional entrenchment. I have also focused attention on the role of constitutional constraints in the aftermath of attacks which catalyze a powerful urge to shortcut safeguards and rights, for example, in the global war on terror. Some countries have infringed civil liberties and abandoned separation of powers more than others. With both new constitutions and emergency constitutions, survival despite adversity depends on the extent to which constitutional ideas have spread to and are supported by politically engaged populations. Constitutions that work, then, are not left just to the lawyers and they are not just legal documents. Constitutions must also have a life in popular consciousness or else they cannot have a life as law.

Publications List: 

“Constitutional Ethnography: An Introduction” 38(3) Law and Society Review 389-406 (2004).

“A Realpolitik Defense of Social Rights.” 82(7) University of Texas Law Review 1921-1961 (2004).

“Law in a Time of Emergency: States of Exception and the Temptations of 9/11.” 6(5)University of Pennsylvania Journal of Constitutional Law 1001-1083 (2004).

“Aspirational and Aversive Constitutionalism: The Case for Studying Cross-Constitutional Influence through Negative Models.” 1(2) I-CON (International Journal of Constitutional Law) 296-324 (2003).

“The Agendas of Comparative Constitutionalism.” 13(2) Law and Courts 5-22 (2003).

Hungary and the End of Politics." The Nation, 26 May 2014.

“The Rule of Law and the Frankenstate: Why Governance Checklists Do Not Work.” 26 Governance 559-562 (2013).

“Hungary’s Illiberal Turn: Dismantling the Constitution.” With Miklós Bánkuti and Gábor Halmai 21(3) Journal of Democracy 138-145 (2012).

“The New Judicial Deference.” 92 Boston University Law Review 89-170 (2012).

The International Standardization of National Security Law.” 4 Journal of National Security Law and Policy 437-453 (2010).

Liberalism against NeoLiberalism: Resistance to Structural Adjustment and the Fragmentation of the State in Russia and Hungary.” In Carol Greenhouse (ed.), Politics, Publics, Personhood: Ethnography at the Limits of Neoliberalism (University of Pennsylvania Press, 2009).

“Le Droit de la Sécurité International: Le Terrorisme et l’Empire Sécuritaire de l’Après-11 Septembre 2001.” (International Security Law: Terrorism and the Security Empire after September 11) in 173 Actes de la Recherche en Sciences Sociales 28-43 (2008).