Thomas Crocker

Associate Professor of Law, University of South Carolina

Resident at the Forschungskolleg Humanwissenschaften:
May–December 2011

Research topic at the Forschungskolleg Humanwissenschaften:
»Overcoming Necessity: Emergency, Constraint, and Constitutional Commitment«

Project outline:
In my project, Overcoming Necessity: Emergency, Constraint, and Constitutional Commitment, I explore the relations between political claims of necessity and constitutional commitments in light of national security policy. This project examines how necessity challenges constitutional constraints by seeking to supersede reason and reflection in setting national policies and priorities while encouraging officials to view national constitutions as potential »suicide pacts.« In light of the special problems necessity raises, this project asks: how, and to what extent, should constitutional norms guide our responses to emergency? How should constitutional commitments and constraints address the rush of urgent circumstance? Overcoming Necessity defends liberal constitutionalism’s commitment to deliberation, self-determination, and political accountability, each of which depends on doing more than following the dictates of perceived necessity. (Thomas Crocker)

While at the Institute Thomas Crocker will be working with Rainer Forst (Professor of Political Theory at Goethe Univeversity and speaker of the Cluster of Excellence »The formation of normative orders« at Goethe University).


Thomas Crocker's stay at the Institute is sponsored by the Alfons and Gertrud Kassel-Foundation.

Scholarly profile of Thomas Crocker

Main areas of research:
Constitutional Law, Political Philosophy

Selected publications:
  1. »From Privacy to Liberty: The Fourth Amendment After Lawrence«, in: UCLA Law Review, 57 (2009), p. 1-69.
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  3. »Torture, with Apologies«, in: Texas Law Review, 86 (2008), p. 569-613 (review essay).
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  5. »Overcoming Necessity: Torture and the State of Constitutional Culture«, in: SMU Law Review, 61 (2008), p. 221-280.
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  7. »Displacing Dissent: The Role of Place in First Amendment Jurisprudence«, in: Fordham Law Review, 75 (2007), S. 2587-2639. Reprinted in: The First Amendment Law Handbook, S. 736 (Rodney A. Smolla ed., Thomson West Publishers 2007-2008).
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  9. »Envisioning the Constitution«, in: American University Law Review, 57 (2007), p. 1-71.
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  11. »Still Waiting for the Barbarians: What Is New about Post-September 11 Exceptionalism?«, in: Law & Literature, 19 (2007), p. 303-326.
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  13. »Wittgenstein’s Practices and Peirce’s Habits: Agreement in Human Activity«, in: History of Philosophy Quarterly, 15 (1998), p. 475-93.

rnFulbright Senior Fellowship at Goethe University, May‒December 2011; Visiting Scholar at the American Academy of Arts and Science, 2010/2011