Rule of Law in the U.S. and Abroad

A Comparative View

With Robert P. George, Kim Lane Scheppele, Garry Kasparov,
Claudia Escobar, and Jeffrey Rosen

Date: February 9th

Time: 7 PM EST

Location: Online via Zoom

Speakers: Masih Alinejad, Evan Mawarire, Rayhan Asat and Ben Rhodes.

What: The National Constitution Center, the Renew Democracy Initiative, and UPenn’s Paideia Program have come together to present an exciting discussion about rule of law in constitutional systems around the world. We have united a unique set of perspectives featuring both legal scholars and foreign dissidents who have risked their lives to fight for freedom in their home countries. The speakers will talk about what happens to constitutions when legal and political norms are violated, how we can protect the rule of law in free countries, and how to fight for rule of law in struggling democracies or unfree nations.

American democracy is under attack, but the fight against authoritarianism has no boundaries. Our speakers know what it’s like to live under oppression – to be threatened, detained, or forced into exile. Throughout their fight, American principles have always inspired them. Now, their stories can inspire us.

Join us for a discussion on 

  1. Their stories of resilience;
  2. How the US can defend democracy around the world, and
  3. What foreign human rights activists can teach us about the rising culture of authoritarianism in America.

We are proud to welcome Pastor Evan MawarireMasih Alinejad, and Rayhan Asat to offer a unique, outside-in perspective on American democracy and the threats we face. Ben Rhodes will moderate.

This RDI event is in partnership with USC Dornsife, USC Annenberg, and the Schwarzenegger Institute.

This event is hosted in partnership with

Meet the Speakers

Jeffrey Rosen is the head of the National Constitution Center and a prolific commentator on Constitutional law. He hosts the weekly podcast, We The People.

Garry Kasparov is a former world chess champion, Russian opposition politician, and now Russian dissident in exile who often highlighted the importance of Russia’s constitution in maintaining the country’s rule of law.

Claudia Escobar is a Guatemalan former judge and whistleblower. She fled her country after receiving death threats for exposing corruption.

Robert P. George, philosopher and legal scholar at Princeton University and the American Enterprise Institute, has been a Judicial Fellow at the U.S. Supreme Court and represented Mother Teresa before the Supreme Court.

Kim Lane Scheppele, a scholar of comparative constitutional norms at Princeton University, studies the emergence and collapse of constitutional norms in different countries.

The Renew Democracy Initiative, as a 501(c)(3) organization, does not engage in political campaign activities, and neither endorses nor opposes any candidates for public office.

Masih Alinejad is an Iranian American author, TV broadcaster, human rights campaigner, and journalist who was forced to flee Iran for her safety in 2009 after criticizing lawmakers and political figures, including former President Ahmadinejad. Because of her advocacy work, she became the target of an alleged kidnapping attempt by Iranian intelligence agents while living in the U.S. in 2021. Described by The New York Times as “the woman whose hair frightens Iran,” she has been a leading voice in the campaign against compulsory hijabs in Iran. Masih is the founder of My Stealthy Freedom and is the author of the best-selling memoir The Wind in My Hair.

Evan Mawarire is a Zimbabwean democracy activist and clergyman who founded the #ThisFlag Citizens Movement to fight corruption, injustice, and poverty in Zimbabwe. He is a Reagan-Fascell Fellow at the National Endowment for Democracy, a former fellow at Stanford University’s Centre for Democracy Development and the Rule of Law, and a 2020 Yale University World Fellow. Named as the 2016 African of the year by the Daily Maverick Newspaper of South Africa and one of 100 top global thinkers of 2016 by Foreign Policy magazine, Mawarire continues to work as an advocate, speaker and trainer on nonviolent citizen-driven change, democracy development and human rights.

Ben Rhodes is the co-chair of National Security Action, co-host of the podcast Pod Save the World and a contributor for NBC News and MSNBC. From 2009-2017, he served as a Deputy National Security Advisor to President Obama, where he led the secret negotiations with the Cuban government to normalize relations between the United States and Cuba, and supported the negotiations to conclude the Iran nuclear deal. Prior to joining the Administration, he was a Senior Speechwriter and foreign policy advisor to the Obama campaign. Rhodes is the author of the New York Times bestsellers The World As It Is and After the Fall: Being American in the World We’ve Made.

Rayhan Asat is a Uyghur human rights lawyer and advocate who has waged a public campaign to free her brother, Ekpar Asat, and fellow Uyghurs imprisoned in the Xinjiang internment camps. She has successfully lobbied the U.S. government for sanctions against China for its campaign of genocide against the Uyghers, and advocated for the pasage of the Uyghur Forced Labor Protection Act. She advised the World Bank and OECD to design Human-Centered Business Integrity Principles and is a Yale World Fellow, a senior fellow at the Raoul Wallenberg Center for Human Rights, and an advisor for multiple human rights groups.

Aaro Berhane

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