Constitutional Prospects, Constitutional Pathologies: Otto Kirchheimer’s Weimar Moments

For Otto Kirchheimer (1905-1965), Carl Schmitt’s favorite socialist doctoral student, the catastrophic failure of Weimar parliamentarianism was not only a moment of profound disillusionment, but also a moment of democratic realignment and recalibration. His early writings provide an astute observation and analysis of the Weimar Constitution’s rise and decline. In my paper, I shall revisit Kirchheimer’s long neglected Weimar writings and discuss the relevance of his work for present and future “Weimar moments“. I shall also take a closer look on 1968’s Kirchheimer-Renaissance in Germany, prompted by the 1965 German edition of his “Political Justice: The Use of Legal Procedures for Political Ends” (Princeton 1961), a book which inspired intense interest in Kirchheimer’s Weimar years in the ranks of the critical left, but also among more mainstream protagonists of legal academia and within political science.