Kathleen Sullivan

Kathleen M. Sullivan is Stanley Morrison Professor of Law at Stanford University.

Recent Articles

State of the Debate: Defining Democracy Down

Must the Catholic Church admit women as priests? Must families with children or pets be allowed to live in every homeowners' association? These questions are even more complicated than they first appear.

In a democracy, we are supposed to treat each other as equals and with mutual respect. Does that mean that the Catholic Church must admit women as priests? Must families with children or pets be allowed to live in every homeowners' association? Should the Ku Klux Klan have to include black nationalists as members, or the NAACP white racists? How far down into our associational life should democratic values and processes extend? Constitutional freedoms of speech, religion, and association provide some protection from state efforts to make every private group look and act like America. But should we cultivate in our political culture even more freedom for illiberal groups than the Constitution requires? Too large and socially diverse to be a single civic community, the United States has long been thought especially dependent upon private voluntary associations—religious sects, social clubs, labor unions, political parties, charitable and professional associations—to mediate between the...

Constitutional Amendmentitis

The rash of amendments being proposed by Republicans has profound -- and dangerous -- implications for our system of government.

M ost things Congress might do this year can be undone by the next election. Amendments to the United States Constitution cannot. Yet more constitutional amendment proposals are undergoing serious consideration in Congress at the moment than at any time in recent memory. After failing by only one vote to pass a balanced budget amendment proposal last March, Congress has gone on to consider a rash of proposed amendments that would impose congressional term limits, authorize laws against flag burning, give the president a line-item veto, abolish the electoral college, outlaw abortion, prohibit remedial school busing, and authorize school prayer, to name a few. Taken together, these proposed amendments add up to the biggest call for constitutional revisionism since opponents of abortion, school busing, and restrictions on school prayer tried to launch a constitutional convention back in the 1970s and 1980s. Those efforts failed, and the Consti tution has remained untouched for several...