The Law and Politics of Protecting Liberal Democracy


Inaugural lecture by prof. mr. dr. John Morijn on 24 june 2022 on acceptance of the post of endowed professor of Law and politics in international relations at the Faculty of Law.

This inaugural lecture discusses the law and politics of protecting liberal democracy in Europe. It is in three parts. It first discusses the nature of the current challenge to liberal democracy. It then addresses the law in place to protect it (better) and identifies ways to improve the record. Finally, it reflects on the politics needed to bridge the gap between binding law and current realities.

The lecture presents three arguments. First, the problem of deterioration of liberal democracy in EU Member States and, as a result, political EU institutions themselves, is deeper and more urgent than commonly understood. Opponents of liberal democracy have a clear gameplan. Its defenders do not – at least not yet. Second, existing binding norms and EU procedures offer more possibilities to protect liberal democracy than used. The challenge is to employ only those tools that are effective and to enforce their outcomes more effectively – particularly judgments of the European Court of Justice. Third and finally, there is a need for more, not less politics to protect liberal democracy. But politics cannot be left to politicians alone. Instead, more conscious and coordinated action from all of us is required. Lawyers and politicians have an additional responsibility.

Design: LINE UP boek en media bv | Riëtte van Zwol
Cover photo and photo author: John Morijn

Published by University of Groningen Press
Broerstraat 4 9712 CP Groningen


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Author Biography

John Morijn

John Morijn (1977, Dordrecht) is an endowed professor of law and politics in international relations at the University of Groningen Faculty of Law. He is also a Commissioner at the Netherlands Institute for Human Rights (College voor de Rechten van de Mens), a Member of the Meijers Committee and a Member of the Dutch Advisory Council on Migration (ACVZ). He studied law at Erasmus Law School (Rotterdam), holds an LLM in EU law from the College of Europe (Bruges) and a PhD in international law from the European University Institute (Florence). Between 2009 and 2019 he served as a civil servant at the Dutch Ministries of Justice and the Interior and head of unit for the latter Ministry at the Dutch Permanent Representation to the European Union (Brussels). His academic work has appeared in European law journal, European Public law, Common Market Law Review and International Journal for Constitutional Law and in edited books by publishers such as Oxford University Press and Cambridge University Press. He is a regular contributor to Verfassungsblog.

Cover oratie John morijn



June 23, 2022


Oratie, Inaugurele Rede, Inaugural Lecture, University of Groningen, Rijksuniversiteit Groningen, Faculty of Law, Faculteit Rechtsgeleerdheid, John Morijn