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Columbia Law Review Online Symposium Focuses on Professor Tabatha Abu El-Haj's Scholarship

Professor Tabatha Abu El-Haj


May 20, 2019

The Columbia Law Review Online has published a symposium focusing on Professor Tabatha Abu El-Haj's article, “Networking the Party: First Amendment Rights and the Pursuit of Responsive Party Government.”  

The article, which appeared in Columbia Law Review in 2018, explores the outsized power that major party leaders exert over the political process, thanks to Supreme Court interpretations of the First Amendment. It also asserts that the diminishing influence of organizations such as labor unions and membership organizations has undermined responsive government.  

The online symposium features a response to Abu El-Haj's article by Michael S. Kang, the William G. and Virginia K. Karnes Research Professor of Law at Northwestern Pritzker School of Law. 

Kang’s response, “The Problem of Irresponsible Party Government,” concurs with Abu El-Haj's diagnosis of the ills of contemporary American parties and her critique of responsible party government but questions the practicality of the associational path to reform she has endorsed.  

The symposium includes a reply by Abu El-Haj, “The Possibilities of Responsive Party Government,” in which she explains how the associational path is both theoretically optimal and practically possible. 

“The 2018 midterm elections suggest that associational-party building is not only feasible but already underway,” Abu El-Haj wrote. “In part, this is because recent advances in technology afford party leaders and grassroots activists significant new opportunities to rebuild political parties in an associational vein.” 

Abu El-Haj's reply also argues that First Amendment law and the judiciary pose better starting points for reform than the legislative process and Congress.