This course will consider the way law informs and regulates representation and participation in the political process. We will examine constitutional constraints on legislative apportionment, districting and on access to the ballot. We will explore the relationship between democratic principles and the electoral participation of racial, language, and political minorities. We will study in depth the Voting Rights Act of 1965, as amended, to understand how the law both shapes and has been shaped by social science research, political theory, historical forces, and practical considerations. We shall also briefly take up issues of alternative election systems and the role of women in politics.
Constitutional Law is strongly recommended but is not a prerequisite for this course. There will be a take-home examination. Up to five students will be allowed to write papers in lieu of the exam. In addition to the exam, class participation will count in grading. Class formats will include lecture, Socratic dialogue, small-group participation, guest speakers, and student facilitation.
Some seats are reserved for students enrolled in the Law and Political Process clinic. Students must be enrolled in the clinic before they are able to claim one of the reserved clinical seats. Enrollment in this course under a reserved clinical seat is dependent on a student's enrollment in the clinic.