Law and politics in the US after Trump (lessons for the UK and the EU?) - Goldsmiths Law

Tuesday, January 19, 2021 - 19:00

January 6th will go down in constitutional history books as one of the darkest hours of Western liberal democracy.


The storming of the US Capitol by Donald Trump supporters, which led to the death of five people (including a US Capitol police officer), left several people injured and parts of Capitol damaged and vandalised while also keeping US Senators under siege for several hours.

It was a ‘wake-up call’ for liberal democratic states around the world. This is what happens when an ultra-populist political narrative, that weaponizes attacks on democratic institutions and the rule of law, is left to go unchecked.

This quick response-seminar (by the Department of Law at Goldsmiths University of London), takes place on the eve of Joe Biden’s inauguration.

It follows the decision to impeach Donald Trump for an unprecedented second time, and brings together eminent scholars from the US and the UK.

Speakers include:

Alice Lilly, senior researcher, The Institute forGovernment

Dahlia Lithwick, senior editor, Slate

Sionaidh Douglas-Scott, Anniversary Chair in Law, QMU School of Law; Law and Public Affairs Fellow at Princeton University 2020-2021.

David Alan Sklansky, Stanley Morrison Professor of Law and Faculty Co-Director, Stanford Criminal Justice Center, Stanford Law School

Leslie Thomas QC, Garden Court Chambers; Gresham Professor of Law; Visiting Professor of Law, Goldsmiths University of London


- Dimitrios Giannoulopoulos, Inaugural Chair in Law, Goldsmiths University of London, as chair.

The objective is to generate reflection in the aftermath of these devastating events, attempting to provide answers to the host of complicated legal and political questions that arise:

Could Donald Trump be criminally liable for the storming of the US Capitol, and the events that ensued?

How is the investigation of the violent protesters developing, and what are the charges they might face?

What role did (criminally?) inadequate policing play in the riot unfolding, and what do we make of the strong contrast with the "policing" of the BLM protests following the murder of George Floyd?

What were the conditions that enabled Trump to undertake attack upon attack of US democratic institutions during his presidency? How effective was the judiciary in standing up to him?

What does US legal history (about division and attempted secession) tell us about the future?

And how easy will it be for Biden to heal division and bring the country together, fixing America’s broken legal and political culture? Will a Conservative 6-3 majority at the Supreme Court prevent Biden from turning the country to the political centre-left?

Finally, what lessons can we learn from these dramatic events in post-Brexit UK as well as in the European Union, where the rule of law is increasingly under pressure by member-states flirting with populist political ideology?

A link to the online event will be emailed to participants on January 19th.

To register for this event, click here


Online ( from 7pm CET)

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