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April 11, 2005

Contact: Kirston Fortune, UT Law Communications, (512) 471.7330, and Professor Sanford Levinson, UT Law, 512-232-1351

UT Law Hosts Major Symposium on Sovereignty, April 13–16

AUSTIN, Texas — The University of Texas Law School will host a major symposium on sovereignty, co-convened by University of Texas Law Professor Sanford Levinson and Professor Francesco Francioni of the European University in Florence, on April 13–16. Lawyers and political scientists from around the United States, Scotland, and Italy will join University of Texas scholars in assessing the importance of "sovereignty" as a way of understanding an increasingly complex and interdependent world.

Sir Neil MacCormick will deliver a public lecture at the symposium, "Is European Democracy Possible? Reflections on the Proposed European Constitution" at 5:30 p.m., Wed., April 13, in the Law School's Eidman Courtroom. A reception will follow his lecture in the Jamail Pavilion outside the courtroom.

Professor MacCormick is well known in the academic world as a distinguished member of the University of Edinburgh faculty of law. He formerly held a chair at Oxford University and he is the author of many books on law and jurisprudence. He is also a long-time member of the Scottish Nationalist Party and represented Scotland in the European Parliament, where, among other things, he was an advisor to those charged with drafting a new constitution for the European Union.

The draft constitution is currently being voted upon by the separate European countries, the first one of which, Spain, endorsed the treaty; a second major vote will occur next month in France. As with the much earlier United States Constitution, the draft European constitution raises profound questions about the relationship between the constituent states and the new central governing structure coming into being. As in the much earlier debates over ratifying the U.S. Constitution, opponents of the European constitution charge that it will ultimately lead to the withering away of the now "sovereign" European states and their replacement by what Patrick Henry termed a "consolidated" central government.

Genuine political movements all over Europe and the United States increasingly concern themselves with the merits or demerits of sovereignty in an increasingly globalized and interconnected world. Professor MacCormick is able to analyze these controversies from the perspectives of both a world-class legal academic and an active participant in the ongoing political debates both within Great Britain and the wider European continent.

Panels on Thursday, Friday, and Saturday will consider the ramification of sovereignty in many different contexts. Anyone interested in receiving a copy of the entire schedule should email Mary Hendryx, Professor Levinson's administrative assistant, at