Transatlantic Law Forum: Citizenship in Europe and the United States
With a Dinner Address by Judge Jean-Claude Bonichot
Council on Public Policy
About This Event

On both sides of the Atlantic, "citizenship" is the subject of vital and often contentious policy debates. In the United States, a nation famously founded on a creed rather than blood ties, the question of what it means to be an American citizen has always been central to the country's self-understanding, and the citizenship question is closely tied to salient political debates over immigration, naturalization, and "identity politics." European countries and the European Union (EU) wrestle with (at least) equally profound questions. Given that there is no European citizenship in any robust sense, can it be constructed--and if so, how and on what basis? Can there be democratic European institutions without European citizens? Should formerly sovereign nations tolerate Islamic law in some domains, perhaps on the principle that allows EU members to maintain their own laws on cultural and other matters--or would that step further compromise the promise of a common European identity and citizenship?

Prominent scholars, jurists, journalists, and policymakers from Europe and the United States will discuss these and related questions in a two-day conference sponsored by the AEI Legal Center's Transatlantic Law Forum (TLF), an AEI joint venture with the Germany-based Council on Public Policy. The TLF provides a forum for scholars, lawyers, policymakers, journalists, and the interested public to deepen the understanding of constitutionalism and constitutional democracy in Europe and in the United States.

In addition to the main conference events, we cordially invite you to a dinner on October 16 from 6:00 to 8:00 p.m. with Judge Jean-Claude Bonichot of the Court of Justice of the European Communities. The dinner is by invitation only, and invitations are nontransferable.

Agenda

Thursday, October 16

8:30 a.m.
Registration and Breakfast
9:00
Welcome:
Michael Zoeller, Council on Public Policy
9:05
Panel I:
Constitutional Patriotism
Presenters:
William Galston, Brookings Institution
Josef Joffe, Die Zeit
Discussants:
Marc Plattner, National Endowment for Democracy
Moderator:
Henry Olsen, AEI
10:45
Panel II:
European Citizenship?
Presenters:
Markus Kotzur, Leipzig University
Francesca Strumia, Harvard Law School
Discussant:
Francois-Henri Briard, Delaporte, Briard et Trichet
Moderator:
Judge Stephen Williams, U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit
12:00 p.m.
Luncheon and Keynote Address
Speaker:
Judge Diane Wood, U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit
2:00
Panel III:
Citizenship and the Legal Tradition
Presenters:
Bernd Ruethers, Universität Konstanz
Peter Schuck, Yale Law School
Discussant:
Susan Rose-Ackerman, Yale Law School
Moderator:
Michael Zoeller, Council on Public Policy
3:45
Panel IV:
Citizenship, Rights, and Constitutional Structure
Presenters:
Robert R. Gasaway, Kirkland & Ellis LLP
Ashley Parrish, Kirkland & Ellis LLP
Adam Tomkins, University of Glasgow
Discussant:
R. Shep Melnick, Boston College
Moderator:
Michael S. Greve, AEI
6:00
Dinner and Keynote Address
Speaker:
Judge Jean-Claude Bonichot, Court of Justice of the European Communities
8:00
Adjournment

Friday, October 17

8:30 a.m.
Registration and Breakfast
9:00
Roundtable I:
The Public and Political Debate in the U.S.
Panelists:
Martin Klingst, Die Zeit
Peter Skerry, Boston College
Moderator:
Thomas Kleine-Brockhoff, German Marshall Fund
10:45
Roundtable II:
The Public and Political Debate in Europe
Panelists:
Francois-Henri Briard, Delaporte, Briard et Trichet
Jürgen Kaube, Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung
Robert von Rimscha, Free Democratic Party
Moderator:
Gerard Alexander, AEI
12:00 p.m.
Luncheon and Concluding Remarks
Speaker:
Kenneth W. Starr, Pepperdine School of Law
2:00
Adjournment

Event Summary

Who Is a Citizen? Europeans and Americans Debate

WASHINGTON, OCTOBER 22, 2008--As the countries of Europe develop deeper transnational economic and social links, the very idea of citizenship is changing substantially. What binds an individual to a particular nation-state? How should a state accommodate immigrants who may hold values opposed to those dominant within the state? Can an individual be a citizen of a nation-state and a citizen of Europe? According to AEI's Michael S. Greve, "these questions lurk just beneath the surface of rancorous debates over immigration, national identity, and religious conflict." Prominent scholars and jurists from around the world met at AEI on October 16-17 to discuss questions of citizenship in the U.S. and Europe.

Citizenship in the U.S. has long been tied to ideas of patriotism. AEI resident scholar Walter Berns stressed the philosophical underpinnings of historical debates over what it means to be a citizen of the United States. He highlighted Thomas Hobbes' Leviathan and John Locke's two Treatises on Government as particularly important "because [the authors] set out the principles of the new enlightenment, the new political philosophy out of which came our understanding of patriotism." Kenneth W. Starr of Pepperdine University also emphasized the importance of American historical events and religion in developing the ideals of American patriotism. But while numerous Americans believe that the United States was founded on a common creed, as opposed to ethnic or religious ties, Marc Plattner of the National Endowment for Democracy argued that "a purely creedal patriotism . . . would not work very well--and does not describe the reality of the U.S. or . . . of any other country." Discussing the history of American citizenship, Yale Law School's Peter Schuck remarked that "citizenship's availability and incidence in the U.S. and elsewhere have varied considerably and infamously depending on characteristics such as race, gender, and ethnicity."

William Galston of the Brookings Institution and Josef Joffe of the German newsweekly Die Zeit contrasted European views of constitutional patriotism with the general American concept. According to Galston, European constitutional patriotism "steers a middle course between cultural and ethnic particularism, on the one hand, and cosmopolitanism on the other." But, in the United States, "we instinctively believe that while ethnic loyalties have a legitimate place in civil society, they cannot work as the basis of national solidarity." The University of Glasgow's Adam Tomkins addressed the history of citizenship in Britain. Even though Parliament is "the institutional embodiment of citizenship in Britain," he said, the history of "British parliamentary citizenship" demonstrates that it "is not, or, at least, was not, conceived as an expression of mass democracy."

And what of the relatively recent idea of "European citizenship," by which an individual may claim to be a citizen of Europe as well as a citizen of his particular country. Harvard Law School's Francesca Strumia argued that the main problem of European citizenship is that "citizens of Europe are not amenable to endorsing the institutions of Europe as their legitimate, autonomous agents and democratic representatives." Likewise, Marcus Kotzur of Leipzig University claimed that there "is not one demos but a multiplicity of demoi at the very heart of European democracy"--a fundamental break with previous democratic models. However, as Bernd Ruethers of the Universität Konstanz argued, the nation-state remains important, for "the appreciation [for patriotism] has not been regained through cultural achievements in German history, but through athletic victories of German teams participating in the Olympic Games and in European and world championships." Cosmopolitan ideas of "European citizenship" have not erased traditional national patriotism. Jean-Claude Bonichot of the European Court of Justice added that a sizeable number of Europeans do not even realize that they are "citizens" of the European Union.

How countries should treat people who reside within their borders but do not have legal citizenship? In her keynote address, Judge Diane Wood of the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals offered several reasons why the United States "might want to have this distinction" between citizens and noncitizens. She noted that it provides "at least a rough surrogate for loyalty to the country," and further contended that citizenship "might be a concept that simply helps us administer this world of nation-states that we have. We've got to assign people to some place, so maybe it is the best we can do to ask for a way to show who's precommitted to a particular territory, who's responsible for whom . . . or who needs to be in charge."

Numerous speakers discussed problems of immigration and assimilation in the United States and Europe. Commenting on her own experiences in the Dutch immigration system, AEI resident fellow and former Dutch parliamentarian Ayaan Hirsi Ali noted the complexity of existing laws regulating citizenship. German journalist Jürgen Kaube noted that although Germany has absorbed millions of immigrants since World War II, "the feeling of being German is not widely distributed among people who hold a German passport." Germans, he added, "have a tendency either to use euphemistic terms in describing [the] situation or to exploit it in a rather simple-minded, populist way." Similarly, Martin Klingst argued that German immigration has led to the residence of "millions of foreigners who perpetuated their foreign legal status to their children and to their grandchildren because German law did not offer them automatic citizenship." Peter Skerry of Boston College argued that the U.S. debate about "citizenship" is actually a debate over illegal immigration. He claimed that most Americans are concerned about procedural issues, such as the process by which illegal immigrants may eventually apply for and receive U.S. citizenship, which he said is different from Europe, where immigration stimulates much more of a cultural debate.

Should rights granted to one nation's citizens be extended to all individuals within the nation's borders, regardless of citizenship status? Robert Gasaway and Ashley Parrish, both of Kirkland & Ellis, argued that the U.S. Constitution "achieves an often underappreciated reconciliation both among individual rights and between individual rights and its broader purpose of establishing representative government." Thus, American citizens and institutions avoid incidents of conflicting rights, whereas such conflicts are often present in European nations.

--LUCI HAGUE

This event was a Transatlantic Law Forum, a joint project of the AEI Legal Center for the Public Interest and the Germany-based Council on Public Policy. For video, audio, and more information about this event, visit www.aei.org/event1787/. For more information about the programs of the AEI Legal Center for the Public Interest, visit www.aeilegalcenter.org.

For media inquiries, contact Véronique Rodman at vrodman@aei.org or 202.862.4870.

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AEI Participants

 

Gerard
Alexander
  • Gerard Alexander is also an associate professor of politics at the University of Virginia.  He is currently researching and writing a book on issues of race and the modern conservative movement in America.  His previous work has examined the conditions for stable democracy, America's policy of democratization abroad, and perceptions of the United States abroad after 9/11. He is the author of The Sources of Democratic Consolidation (Cornell University Press, 2002).
  • Phone: 202-375-7826
    Email: galexander@aei.org

 

Walter
Berns
  • Walter Berns is also a professor emeritus at Georgetown University. A scholar of political philosophy and constitutional law, he has written extensively on American government and politics in both professional and popular journals. He is the author of numerous books on democracy, the Constitution, and patriotism. His most recent book is Democracy and the Constitution (AEI Press, 2006), a collection of essays. He was awarded the National Humanities Medal in 2005.
  • Phone: 2028625859
    Email: wberns@aei.org

 

Michael S.
Greve

 

Ayaan
Hirsi Ali
  • Ayaan Hirsi Ali, an outspoken defender of women's rights in Islamic societies, was born in Mogadishu, Somalia. She escaped an arranged marriage by immigrating to the Netherlands in 1992 and served as a member of the Dutch parliament from 2003 to 2006. In parliament, she worked on furthering the integration of non-Western immigrants into Dutch society and defending the rights of women in Dutch Muslim society. In 2004, together with director Theo van Gogh, she made Submission, a film about the oppression of women in conservative Islamic cultures. The airing of the film on Dutch television resulted in the assassination of Mr. van Gogh by an Islamic extremist. At AEI, Ms. Hirsi Ali researches the relationship between the West and Islam, women's rights in Islam, violence against women propagated by religious and cultural arguments, and Islam in Europe.

     

  • Email: ayaan.hirsiali@aei.org
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