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Spring 2021 Reading Group

Political Parties and Public Law

Prerequisites: None

Exam Type: No Exam

Politicians and pundits frequently charge that aggressive partisanship has infected our political institutions. Critics allege that even the federal judiciary has fallen victim to political tribalism, suggesting that judges simply carry water for the party of the president that appointed them. And yet, outside of election law, political parties have received limited focus in the legal academy—and even less in the law school curriculum. This reading group seeks to remedy that relative neglect. Over the course of the semester, we will explore how parties structure public law, focusing on the Constitution, legislation, and administrative law. What are parties? What do they do? And how can they be reformed? We will use a range of texts, including scholarly writing, judicial opinions, and popular commentary.

The reading group will meet for six two-hour sessions, and participation will be graded credit/fail. Because the focus will be on the U.S. political system, a working knowledge of U.S. law is assumed.

Note: This reading group will meet on the following dates: 2/4, 2/18, 3/4, 3/25, 4/8, 4/22.