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Head-to-Head: A Meeting of Inspired Minds

The Constitutional Foundation of Inequality in the United States

According to a leading social-science theorem, democracy is supposed to act as a check on growing economic inequality. The intuition behind this is simple: If a majority of the population sees their incomes stagnate while the wealthy minority gets richer, that majority will demand redistributive policies, and representatives will respond by addressing inequality. But in the United States, very little redistribution has accompanied rising economic inequality. Why? In this discussion, Bertrall Ross and Martin Seeleib-Kaiser examine the intentional decision by the framers of the U.S. Constitution to politically disempower the poor, and the constitutional limits the Supreme Court has placed on redressing economic inequality. Against this legal backdrop, Ross argues that reducing the electorate’s income-class imbalance—i.e. the wealthy voting at higher rates than the less affluent—is one of the last constitutionally effective means of ameliorating political inequality. In so doing, Ross shows how political campaigns’ mobilization strategies are key to inducing greater participation among the poor, and he proposes three legal strategies for how they might be implemented.

Martin Seeleib-Kaiser studied political science, American studies and public law at Ludwig-Maximilians University in Munich, where he received his MA in 1989 and a doctorate in 1992. He completed his postdoctoral lecture qualification at Bremen University in 2000. Prior to his appointment at the Eberhard Karls University of Tübingen, in 2017, he held appointments at the University of Oxford (2004 – 17), Duke University (1999 – 2002) and Bremen University (1993 – 99; 2002 – 04). He has been a guest professor at George Washington University, Shizuoka University, Aalborg University and at the WZB Berlin Social Science Centre.

In cooperation with the Evangelisches Bildungszentrum Hospitalhof Stuttgart and the Deutsch-Amerikanisches Zentrum Stuttgart

Generously supported by Robert Bosch Stiftung Gmbh, Holtzbrinck Publishing Group, and Berthold Leibinger Stiftung GmbH


To participate in the event at Evangelisches Hospitalhof Stuttgart, proof of vaccination (complete vaccination protection), recovery or rapid antigen test not older than 24 hours is necessary. Please have your proof ready to present accordingly. The requirement to wear a medical mask during the event still applies.

Zur Teilnahme an der Veranstaltung im Evangelischen Hospitalhof Stuttgart ist ein 3-G-Nachweis erforderlich:  geimpft (vollständiger Impfschutz), genesen (mit Nachweis), oder getestet (Antigen-Schnelltest nicht älter als 24 Stunden). Bitte halten Sie Ihren Nachweis entsprechend bereit. Die Pflicht zum Tragen einer medizinischen Maske während der Veranstaltung gilt weiterhin.

06 Oct 21
06.10.2021 Add to iCal
19:30 - 21:00
Hospitalhof Stuttgart
Büchstenstraße 33
70174 Stuttgart
Speaker: Bertrall Ross

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