Campbell MacGillivray

Research Assistant

Research Interests
Democratic and constitutional theory; comparative politics; the American political system; state transformation and new forms of authoritarianism; state theory and particularly constitutional courts.

Doctoral Project: Can the Judiciary Defend Democracy? Constitutional Courts as an Institutional Guardian in Threatened Democracies
An important feature of liberal constitutional democracy is that a Constitutional Court has final say over integral features of the system due to its role interpreting the constitution. Ultimately, this can even result in the repudiation of certain laws or action from the legislature or executive, an idea not without contestation. Various polities might have a thicker or thinner definition of exactly how big this judicial domain can and should be. But rarely is it uncontested that courts should have the power to adjudicate on those rights most central to the functioning of democracy, in particular, supervising fair elections that make a transition of power possible. This evolutionary promise of representative democracy is for good reason most often placed out of the control of the currently elected. What has become clear, though, is the difficulty of this role. While proponents of ‘militant democracy’ would have courts intervene to protect democracy from forces that try to control it through (often perverted) democratic means, this is both difficult in practice and in terms of legitimacy. My thesis will look theoretically and empirically at what strategies courts employ to safeguard democracy threatened by governments corrupting the meaning of its institutions and rules, as evident in the case studies analysed here – Poland, India, Brazil, and the United States. Lessons will be drawn from the institutional behaviour of these courts to suggest a roadmap for potential judicial action and strategy in such crisis situations.

Curriculum Vitae


  • Since 10/2022
    Research Assistant and Teaching Assistant in Political Theory and History of Ideas at the Georg-August-Universität Göttingen (Prof. Dr. Tine Stein)
  • 04/2020 – 10/2022
    Research and Teaching Assistant in Comparative Politics at the Georg-August-Universität Göttingen (Prof. Dr. Andreas Busch)
  • 11/2020 – 04/2020
    Research Assistant in Political Theory and History of Ideas at the Georg-August-Universität Göttingen (Prof. Dr. Tine Stein)
  • Since 10/2020
    Doctoral Study Program at the Georg-August-Universität Göttingen supervised by Prof. Dr. Tine Stein
  • 04/2020 – 07/2020
    Teaching Assistant in Slavic Studies at the Georg-August-Universität Göttingen (Prof. Dr. Matthias Freise)
  • 02/2018 – 02/2020
    Student Assistant in Slavic Studies at the Georg-August-Universität Göttingen (Prof. Dr. Matthias Freise)
  • 03/2018 – 08/2019
    Student Assistant in Global and Regional Government at the Georg-August-Universität Göttingen (Prof. Dr. Tobias Lenz)
  • 10/2017 – 03/2020
    Master of Arts Global Politics: Structures and Borders with a Minor in Slavic Studies at the Georg-August-Universität Göttingen
  • 02/2012 – 12/2016
    Bachelor of Arts (First-Class Honours) with Majors in Politics and International Relations and Russian alongside a Diploma of Modern Languages (German) at the University of Melbourne

  • Publications

    • 2021: MacGillivray, Campbell: A Bolsonarist Cat Among the Pigeons, VerfBlog, 2021/1/30, Link, DOI: 10.17176/20210130-222608-0.

    • Teaching

      • WiSe 2022/23: BA-Seminar „Structuring Political Order: The Role of Constitutions and Constitutional Courts“ (Georg-August-Universität Göttingen)
      • WiSe 2021/22: BA-Seminar „Die demokratische Krise im internationalen Vergleich“ (Georg-August-Universität Göttingen)
      • SoSe 2021: BA-Seminar “The German Constitutional Court” (Georg-August-Universität Göttingen)
      • SoSe 2020: BA-Seminar “Introduction to World Literature” (Georg-August-Universität Göttingen)

      • Scholarships

        • Since February 2022
          Scholarship Holder of the Hans-Böckler-Foundation
        • 01/2016 – 02/2016
          DAAD Winterkursstipendium
        • 03/2014 – 07/2014
          Melbourne Global Languages Grant
        • 01/2014 – 02/2014
          Igor Meshakov-Korjakin Scholarship for Russian Study