Professor Mark Tushnet delivers 15th Kwa Geok Choo Distinguished Visitors Lecture

NUS Law hosted the 15th Kwa Geok Choo Distinguished Visitors Lecture with Professor Mark Tushnet, from Harvard Law School, who delivered a public lecture titled, "The Future of the Separation of Powers" on 20 September 2018. The lecture was followed by a question and answer session chaired by Professor Andrew Harding.

Speaking to a full house made up of members from the law fraternity and students, Professor Tushnet postulated a fourth branch of government, consisting of a group of institutions whose function, as described in the Constitution of South Africa, is the protection of constitutional democracy.

Among these institutions are electoral commissions, anti-corruption agencies, and constitutional courts. The lecture began by describing how the fourth branch fits into the overall scheme of separation of powers. By contrasting institutions for protecting democracy with the administrative bureaucracy, it then analyses the branch’s emergence as a separate branch of government. Professor Tushnet focused on a discussion of the characteristics of these three institutions, which he termed IPDs (Institutions Protecting Democracy), raising provocative questions of institutional design such as specialisation, qualifications for appointment, appointment mechanisms, and tenure, and concluded with some speculations about the future of the fourth branch.

About the Kwa Geok Choo Distinguished Visitors Programme
NUS Law established the Kwa Geok Choo Distinguished Visitors Programme as one of several initiatives to pay tribute to the late Madam Kwa Geok Choo, wife of Singapore’s founding Prime Minister, Mr Lee Kuan Yew (LL.D.’13 Honoris Causa). Under this programme, leading law academics are invited to teach a course at NUS and deliver public lectures on topical legal issues.

About the Speaker
Professor Tushnet is the William Nelson Cromwell Professor of Law at Harvard Law School. He graduated from Harvard College and Yale Law School, and served as a law clerk to Justice Thurgood Marshall. He specialises in constitutional law and theory, including comparative constitutional law. His research includes studies examining the practice of judicial review in the United States and around the world. He also writes in the area of legal and particularly constitutional history, with works on the development of civil rights law in the United States, and currently a long-term project on the history of the Supreme Court in the 1930s. Professor Tushnet is teaching Freedom of Speech: Critical & Comparative Perspectives at NUS Law as the Kwa Geok Choo Distinguished Visitor and is a Visiting Research Professor at the Centre for Asian Legal Studies (CALS).

From left: Professor Simon Chesterman (Dean, NUS Law), Professor Mark Tushnet, Professor Andrew Harding, and Professor David Tan (Vice Dean (Academic Affairs))

Professor Mark Tushnet

Professor Tushnet speaks to a full house at the Moot Court @ NUS Law


Panel discussion moderated by Professor Andrew Harding

Professor Andrew Harding holding up a book authored by Professor Mark Tushnet

Professor James Penner (Vice Dean (Research))

Professor Damian Chalmers

Associate Professor Jaclyn Neo