Stéphanie Hennette Vauchez

Stéphanie Hennette Vauchez is Professor of public law at Université Paris Nanterre, director of the CREDOF (Centre d’études et de recherches sur les droits fondamentaux) and a senior member of the Institut universitaire de France. She was a post-doctoral Fulbright fellow at Northwestern University Law School, a Marie Curie Fellow at the European University Institute and a Law & Public Affairs Fellow at Princeton University. Her research focuses on comparative law and legal theory. After working on bioethics for a decade, her interests have turned to law and gender with a particular attention to issues of religious pluralism (religious freedom and non-discrimination) as well as security issues (terrorism and states of emergency). Professor Hennette Vauchez has published extensively in all these fields. She is the author of close to 100 journal articles and book chapters in French, English and Italian. She has authored and co-authored 8 books including one of the most prominent manuals of human rights law in French, an essay on states of emergency (La démocratie en état d’urgence. Quand l’exception devient permanente, Seuil, 2022). She is also the co-editor of 6 volumes including three major francophone references on gender and law (La loi & le genre. Etudes critiques de droit français, Ed. du CNRS, 2014; Ce que le genre fait au droit, Dalloz, 2013; Genre et droit. Ressources pédagogiques, Dalloz, 2016) and the co-editor (with Ruth Rubio Marin) of the forthcoming Cambridge Companion to Gender & Law.

Professor Hennette Vauchez has given talks and speeches in many countries. Besides her scholarly activities, she is also a regular contributor to the public debate. She contributes to the press, is regularly invited to testify in official institutions (national and international) and is involved in several networks bringing together academics, lawyers and human rights organizations. She is also active in the European public debate, especially trough her participation to the T-Dem project with Thomas Piketty, Antoine Vauchez, Guillaume Sacriste, Anne-Laure Delatte and Lucas Chancel (see in particular Stephanie Hennette, Thomas Piketty, Guillaume Sacriste, Antoine Vauchez, How to Democratize Europe, Harvard University Press, 2019 as well as: ).


Research Project

For a spatial turn in the constitutional theory of equality and nondiscrimination. Many tensions currently lie at the heart of contemporary democracies’ commitment to the constitutional principles of equality and non-discrimination: the normative project they encapsulate has become a central target for backlash movements who construe it as the cover-up for the imposition of substantive axiological choices. In a strange echo to both the right and left libertarian critiques of anti-discrimination law (Epstein, 1995; Vallentyne, 2006), they claim that the principles of equality and non-discrimination, as well as the corresponding values of tolerance and pluralism and their technical translation into bodies of anti-discrimination law, convey the imposition of debatable norms at the expense of political orders’ and individuals’ preferences and autonomy. My research project takes these challenges seriously. Based on my previous work on normative debates in the constitutional realm (around the human dignity principle, laïcité and secularism, gender…), my sense is that that merely apprehending them as conflicts of norms in pluralist societies (eg discarding them as running against the values of equality, pluralism or tolerance affirmed in numerous constitutions or in the Treaty on the European Union) is not enough. Rather, I read them as foregrounding the need to strengthen the theoretical foundations of equality and anti-discrimination law. This entails addressing a core conceptual question: how can liberal democracies simultaneously call themselves that (and therefore, stand by a commitment to government that allows the coexistence of a plurality of conceptions of the good rather than imposing one) and promote equality and non-discrimination through law? Rather than treating this question in the abstract (eg as a classical question of constitutional theory), my plan is to privilege a bottom-up, pragmatist approach based on the examination of specific spaces in which conflicts and uncertainties arise. This comparative constitutional law project thus advocates a spatial turn in the theoretical reflection on equality and anti-discrimination norms. The objective is thus to document and analyze the actual application of equality and non-discrimination law in three social spaces (the workplace, schools, and public spaces) in order to (i) map out the geography that governs the application of equality and anti-discrimination norms and (ii) incorporate these findings in a renewed theory of the legitimacy and acceptability of equality and anti-discrimination law.