J. Gray Whitsett

Considerations of law and democracy from Indonesia.

Dr. Edita Elda and me, the intern, in front of Andalas University's Faculty of Law (Hukum) building.From my work with the Center for Constitutional Studies (PUSaKO) at Andalas University in Padang and the Constitutional Court in Jakarta, these are reflections on the Indonesian and American legal systems, focusing on their constitutions, high courts, and democratic norms.

My internship will consist of assisting with a performance assessment of the Indonesian constitution's impact on democratic development, rule of law, and social welfare. The assessment is a partnership between PUSaKO and International IDEA, and it will allow me to conduct parallel research on the Indonesian election system for publication. I will also work in the chambers of Justice Saldi Isra of the Indonesian Constitutional Court, an incredible opportunity to learn from and support the nation's foremost jurist on anticorruption. Along the way, I will serve as a guest lecturer in a variety of legal courses offered at Andalas University, explaining the basics of the American legal system and areas of law for students interested in practicing internationally or studying in the United States.

My hope is to use this space to share my thoughts on election law and administration by discussing the myriad people, places, and things with which I've the good fortune of interacting. Fundamentally, I approach this work with two beliefs: the American electoral system needs reform, and foreign countries doing the hard work of democracy have crucial lessons to share. We ignore both to our peril.  

X. Summer in Review

Reviewing all that I did this summer. Plus some final photos.

IX. Internationalism in Law

Remarking on the influence of foreign legal sources on Indonesian law. Plus some of its drawbacks.

VIII. Democracy, Over Regulated

Fretting over the election laws, court decisions, and political actors that threaten Indonesian democracy.

VII. Religion in Law

Noting the ways religious practice has influenced Indonesian politics and law. Plus some lovely shots of mosques.

VI. Regional Autonomy

Comparing where authority and power are situated in the Indonesian and American systems. Plus the U.S. Postal Service.

V. The Judiciary

Explaining the two-headed Indonesian judicial system, Justice Saldi Isra, and my time working at the Constitutional Court. Plus some snark toward the end.

IV. Colonial Scars

Reviewing the impact of Dutch colonial rule on Indonesian law and society. Plus a Jakarta Post op-ed written by your favorite intern.

III. National, Permanent, & Independent

Discussing Indonesian election administration, Bush v. Gore, and Samuel Alito. Plus a link to a video featuring yours truly.

II. The Power of Presidents

Overviewing Indonesian presidential history, its influence on the Constitution, and a comparison of Indonesian and U.S. presidential power. Plus some interesting photos.