GOV 384N • Comparative Constitutionalism
3:00 PM-6:00 PM
The proliferation of new constitutions in recent years has sharpened interest in a subject that has been around since Aristotle but has not always figured prominently in political science and legal studies. The comparative analysis of constitutions (and related interpretive and structural issues) is now embraced as an essential component of the public law curriculum. This course will explore alternative traditions of constitutionalism, connecting them to the broader political cultures from which they have emerged. It will seek to account for the similarities and differences within the constitutional ideas and arrangements of nations representing widely disparate historical and cultural experiences. It will investigate the phenomenon of constitutional change as it occurs in formal and informal ways. It will examine the role contextual variables play in the increasingly common (but controversial) practice of using foreign constitutional materials in domestic adjudication settings. And it will consider how the comparative approach might contribute to contemporary debates among constitutional theorists.
Active participation in class discussions, brief critiques of assigned readings, and a substantial research paper.