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Law Courses Catalog

Comparative Constitutional Law

NOTE: This course description is new for the 2017-2018 academic year. You may read the prior course description immediately below the new one. 

2017-2018

This course explores topics in the comparative study of constitutional law, with a focus on the structure of different constitutional systems and the consequences of those structural differences.

Comparing constitutions from various regions of the world, the course will examine several topics concerning constitutional law, including judicial review, individual rights, federalism, separation of powers, authoritarian constitutions, constitutional revolutions, and constitutional transitions from dictatorship to democracy. Throughout the course, we will explore what the comparative perspective tells us about the U.S. Constitution.  

Evaluation will be based on class simulations and a final exam. Some simulations will involve group work that will require coordination with classmates and meetings outside of class time. For each simulation, students will critique other students’ assignments and prepare a self-reflection. The simulations may include such tasks as drafting constitutional provisions, conducting a review of proposed constitutional provisions, and negotiating a constitutional transition from dictatorship to democracy.

With the permission of the instructor, a limited number of students may be allowed to write a paper in lieu of the final exam and submit the paper to satisfy the Capstone requirement

Prerequisite: Constitutional Law I

Limited number of students may elect Capstone writing requirement

NOTE: The below course description applied in academic years prior to 2017-2018.

This course explores topics in the comparative study of constitutional law, with a focus on the structure of different constitutional systems and the consequences of those structural differences. Recent constitutional reconstructions across the Middle East following the 2011 Arab Spring have called renewed attention to the structural design of political systems.  In light of these recent events, this course will address the following questions: What are the basic structural elements of constitutions? How do these elements differ across time, region, and regime type? What is the process by which states draft and implement constitutions? Comparing constitutions from various regions of the world, the course will examine several topics concerning constitutional structure, including judicial review, federalism, separation of powers, presidential and parliamentary systems, constitutional transitions, and constitutional amendment processes. The course will conclude with reflections on what the comparative perspective tells us about the U.S. Constitution.  

Evaluation will be based on class participation and a final exam.

With the permission of the instructor, a limited number of students may be allowed to write a paper in lieu of the final exam and submit the paper to satisfy the Capstone requirement. 

Prerequisite: Constitutional Law I

Limited number of students may elect Capstone writing requirement