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Workshop and lecture on legal mobilization

It appears that interest groups are increasingly finding their way to court or other ways of making use of the legal system as a means for societal change. Over the summer, Rowie Stolk, PhD candidate at the Department of Constitutional and Administrative Law was one of the speakers at the workshop ‘Legal mobilization and democracy in Europe’ that was organised by EUI.

The European dimension seems to become more and more important in the procedural strategies of interest groups. Not only do interest groups often appeal to European legislation, but they also seem to be taking a more strategic approach when it comes to the interchange between the European and national dimension. In her presentation, Rowie addressed legal mobilization as a strategy for democratic inclusivity. By looking, for instance, at strategies for litigation used by interest groups that historically have not always had ‘a seat at the table’ in the Dutch poldermodel

During the workshop several issues were addressed such as (1) the relation between democracy and legal mobilization, with special attention for the definition of representativity. (2) Several speakers, Rowie among them, discussed legal mobilization as a means to promote democratic inclusivity in terrains that are known for an asymmetry in power, such as minority rights, or protection of the environment/climate. Attention was also given to (3) legal mobilization against the liberal democracy with a focus on the lack of justice as an instrument for authoritarianism, and (4) the use of legal mobilization as a means to protect the constitutional state. 

Scott Cummings, Robert Henigson Professor of Legal Ethics at UCLA School of Law, and Fulbright-Schuman Distinguished Chair at EUI, was one of the organisers of the workshop. Last summer, he travelled to Leiden to take the stage as keynote speaker at the conference ‘Courts as an Arena for Social Change.’ He also held a lecture at the Department of Constitutional and Administrative Law on legal mobilization within the labour movement in Los Angeles. The interchange between the different government layers and the dynamics between state courts and federal courts addressed in the lecture provided plenty of inspiration to start thinking more about legal mobilization within the European multi-layered legal order.  

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