Alternative Realities, Conspiracy Theory, and the Constitutional and Democratic Order

The spring symposium of the St. Thomas Journal of Law and Public Policy.

Date & Time:

Friday, April 16, 2021
8:30 AM - 4:00 PM



Online / Zoom

Conspiracy theories and claims of alternate realities have been a recurrent feature of American political and constitutional thought for nearly the whole span of American history. From the anti-Masonic panic of the 1820s, to the John Birch Society of the 1950s and 1960s, conspiracy theory has played an important, though often unacknowledged, role in the American political order.

Recent decades, however, have witnessed a proliferation of conspiracy theories and their gradual “normalization” by large segments of American society. September 11 “truthers,” anti-vaccination activists, and a belief that acts of terror must be “false-flag operations” characterized the early years of the twenty-first century.

The Trump Era, furthermore, has seen the emergence of ever more detailed conspiracy theories, whether one has in mind Q-Anon, COVID-19, or unfounded claims that the 2020 presidential election was fatally flawed by fraud or wrong-doing.

This symposium will explore the relationship of alternate reality, conspiracy theory, and the constitutional and democratic orders.

CLE credits applied for.

SCHEDULE (Central Standard Time)

8:30 a.m. Welcome and Introductions  
8:45-10:15 a.m. – Panel #1

  • Daniel Jolley, Northumbria University
  • Steven Smallpage, Stetson University
  • David Opderbeck, Seton Hall University Law School
  • Dr. Cynthia Boyer, Institute Maurice Hauriou, Université Toulouse 

10:15-10:30 a.m. - Break  
10:30 a.m.-12 p.m. – Panel #2 

  • Ian Iverson, University of Virginia
  • Joshua Kastenberg, University of New Mexico
  • Patrick Callaway, University of Maine
  • F. Enrique Guerra-Pujols, University of Central Florida

12-12:30 p.m. – Lunch Break  
12:30-1:30 p.m. – Keynote Address: James Morone, Brown University
1:30-2 p.m. – Break  
2-3:30 p.m. – Panel #3 

  • Katherine Drabiak, University of South Florida
  • Nick Sciullo, Texas A&M - Kingsville
  • Michael Conklin, Angelo State University
  • Kim Breedon, Barry University School of Law


To make an accessibility request, call Disability Resources at (651) 962-6315.

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