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Harvard Law Review Forum

Provocation: Law’s Republics

Responding to In Tribute: Frank I. Michelman, 125 Harv. L. Rev. 879 (2012)

I begin with three premises: First, the relevance for any polity of the exercises in self-government of other political communities, as encoded in their constitutional laws and cultures, is not self evident and must therefore be justified. Second, that justification must place domestic and foreign law within a unitary framework by reference to which the comparativist’s choices can be defended. Third, no project of comparative constitutional law, and perhaps comparative law generally, can withstand scrutiny unless it articulates, or it signs on to some articulation, of such a framework. By placing comparative constitutional law within the larger constitutional democratic project of government by law, Professor Frank Michelman’s work gives us a framework for how the constitutional mind can approach — or “go visiting,” as Hannah Arendt put it — the experiments in collective self-determination of other free communities of equals. My Provocation explores that framework.