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Spring 2023 Course

Comparative Constitutional Law

Prerequisites:None, constitutional law/politics (of any jurisdiction) helpful but not required.

Exam Type:No Exam

This course is a study of constitutional law and politics from a comparative perspective. It has three distinctive features: first, it examines comparative constitutional law through the lens of plurinational and deeply divided societies. One supposed function of constitutions is to enshrine the priority of political and legal mechanisms over violence for resolving societal disputes. A focus on deeply divided societies will allow us to examine this function closely. We will, therefore, draw our examples not only from constitutionally influential jurisdictions (such as United States, United Kingdom and Germany), but also from constitutions of plurinational or deeply divided societies (such as South Africa, Israel, and India). The course will also include material from jurisdictions firmly outside the ‘canon’ of comparative constitutional law, such as China, Iran, Australia, Thailand, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Hong Kong, Afghanistan, and the Netherlands.

Second, this course will require you to read a lot of secondary material (and a bit of case law). If you have mainly studied law through case law until now, this may seem a bit daunting. But fear not, everyone gets the hang of it pretty soon, and help (from me) will always be at hand. Plus, you will expand your repertoire of legal understanding significantly.

Third, the course goes beyond a focus on courts and legal norms. Apart from constitutional courts, it includes a study of other constitutional institutions (such as legislatures, executives, political parties, and guarantor institutions such as electoral commissions, ombudsoffices, human rights and equality commissions, and anti-corruption bodies).

Apart from a flavour of how different constitutional systems try to solve similar problems differently, and an insight into some cutting-edge developments in the practice of constitutionalism, the course should also help you understand your own system better by facilitating its examination from a different—external—perspective.

Note: This course will be meet for 12 total sessions on a condensed scheduling, starting the week of March 20, 2023; exact schedule will be annouced before the semester begins.