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Abu El-Haj Wins National Award for Paper on First Amendment

Professor Tabatha Abu El-Haj

March 07, 2023

Tabatha Abu El-Haj, professor of law at Drexel University’s Kline School of Law, won the Distinguished Scholarship Award in Election Law for her paper, “How the Liberal First Amendment Under-Protects Democracy,” which was published in July 2021 by Minnesota Law Review.

The award is presented by The Association of American Law Schools’ Section on Election Law for “a single work that exemplifies excellence in the field and that is published within a given year.”

In her article, Abu El-Haj advances “a construction of the First Amendment that actually protects democracy in all its facets.” She writes, “As currently construed, the First Amendment operates to the detriment of democracy.” She goes on to outline a number of “missteps” that, taken together, “result in a construction of the First Amendment that undermines democracy at a moment when American democratic institutions, and the First Amendment itself, are under extreme political pressure. Properly construed, the First Amendment can do better.”

“This award is a well-deserved recognition of Professor Abu El-Haj’s work,” says Amy L. Landers, the law school’s associate dean for faculty research. “This article fits within her overall expertise in Constitutional law, and re-examines significant issues surrounding democratic self-governance, legislative choice and speech. The AALS Election Law Section’s endorsement of this piece highlights both its excellence and importance.”

Abu El-Haj is a leading expert on the First Amendment and the right of peaceable assembly. Her principal interest is in the American political process, with a focus on increasing the democratic accountability and responsiveness of government to ordinary Americans through both statutory reform and constitutional law.