School of Law

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Or Bassok

Assistant Professor in Constitutional Law, Faculty of Social Sciences



Dr Bassok's research is focused on two main themes: the corruption of constitutional law as a result of a shift in understanding judicial legitimacy and the difficulty liberal states encounter in confronting identity issues.

Bassok's doctoral dissertation, written at Yale Law School, exposes a shift in how judicial legitimacy has been understood in the United States in recent decades. Bassok shows that while in the past, judicial legitimacy was understood in terms of expertise, in recent decades it has been understood in terms of public support. Bassok argues that the invention of public opinion polls was a major reason for this shift. Using various techniques, Bassok demonstrates this shift and its connection to the invention of public opinion polls. For example, he shows that Alexander Hamilton's famous saying on judicial legitimacy from the Federalist No. 78 has been paraphrased by Supreme Court Justices and scholars in recent decades: rather than speaking of the Court's "judgment" as its source of legitimacy as Hamilton did, current Justices speak of "public confidence." The origin point for this paraphrasing is Justice Felix Frankfurter's dissenting opinion in Baker v. Carr (1962). Bassok exposes that in the drafts of his dissenting opinion, Frankfurter considered several options before settling on "public confidence".

In his recent work, Bassok has demonstrated how this shift in understanding judicial legitimacy has corrupted the American Supreme Court's jurisprudence. Understanding the Court's legitimacy in terms of public support, led to measuring arguments according to their public support rather than measuring them in terms of their legality. Bassok has also demonstrated how the shift in understanding judicial legitimacy has spread to other courts including the ECtHR.

The second theme Dr. Bassok has researched is the difficulty liberal states encounter in confronting identity issues. In a recent Article he examines how the neutrality of liberal states is in tension with the idea of a political identity. Through a discussion of a mysterious meeting Carl Schmitt had in 1932 with an American scholar - a meeting that according to Schmitt led him to adopt Nazi ideology - Bassok shows that the threat to liberal states is not merely from ideologies that can capture the democratic system by offering a non-neutral vision. Rather, the threat is in the negation of the intensity that a political identity requires. The threat revealed to Schmitt is that liberalism's neutrality negates the idea of having ideas intense enough to serve as the core for a viable political identity. Based on researching this theme, Bassok developed an elective seminar - UK Constitutional Identity - that aims to examine whether constitutional law can serve as the focal point of the UK's political identity.

During his doctorate studies, Bassok was a Fulbright Scholar, a Robina Foundation Visiting Human Right Fellow at Yale Law School and a Tikavh scholar at NYU. After finishing his doctorate, he also was a Baldy Postdoctoral Fellow at SUNY and a Max Weber Postdoctoral Fellow at the EUI.

Prior to his graduate studies, Bassok was a defense lawyer in Israel. He appeared in criminal cases and human rights petitions. His last case before the Israeli Supreme Court dealt with the evidentiary meaning of a defendant's failure to testify in trial (the English translation can be found here: Milstein v. Chief Military Prosecutor).

At Nottingham, Bassok is the convenor of the Public Law core module (year 1). He also lectures in the Criminal Law core module (year 2). He has taught tutorials in both modules. He is also the convenor of an elective module he created on UK Constitutional Identity (years 2, 3).

His field of interest for dissertation supervisions are constitutional law, comparative constitutional law, legal theory and criminal law.

SSRN page:

Expertise Summary

Constitutional Law; Criminal Law.

Teaching Summary

UK Public Law; Criminal Law

Selected Publications

Past Research

School of Law

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