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POL S 367 A: Comparative Law and Courts

Meeting Time: 
MWF 12:30pm - 1:20pm
SIG 134
Joint Sections: 
LSJ 367 A
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Jonathan Beck

Syllabus Description:

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POLS/LSJ 367: Comparative Law and Courts

Instructor: Jonathan C. Beck
Office: Gowen 025
Office hours: Wednesdays 9:00-10:00 a.m. and 1:45-2:45 p.m.

Lectures: MWF 12:30-1:20 in SIG 134

Teaching Team:
Jihyeon Bae

Sections: AA (11:30-12:20) & AD (12:30-13:20)

Office Hours: Monday 9:00-11:00

Nela Mrchkovska

Sections: AB (9:30-10:20) & AC (10:30-11:20)

Office Hours: Wednesday 1:30-3:30pm

Course Overview

Are you interested in why law and courts matter for politics and policy? This course will introduce you to comparative judicial politics: how law, courts, and politics interact in countries throughout the world. The class is a core course in the Law, Societies and Justice program.

We begin by critically examining the (ideal) functions of courts: to provide for “order,” resolve disputes, and to enforce legal norms. We then turn to constitutional politics in democracies, asking whether and how constitutional courts have changed national policies and empowered individuals with new rights. Next, we study the development of constitutional courts in countries that are undergoing transitions to democracy, transitioning to some as yet undefined system, as well as those in non-democracies. The final section of the course is devoted to law and courts in supranational and international contexts. In particular, students will explore an increasingly powerful supranational court, the European Court of Justice, which we will compare with the European Court of Human Rights and the African Court on Human and Peoples’ Rights. The course concludes with an examination of the International Criminal Court.

Required Reading: All required readings will be posted for free on Canvas. There are no required textbooks. There will be about 30 pages of reading per class session, and I will always provide reading questions to help guide you through the readings. These questions are not required for credit but should be considered a useful resource.

Participation/Engagement                            20%
Short Assignments                                         15%
Take-Home Midterm                                      20%
Research Paper                                               25%
Take-Home Final                                            20%

Catalog Description: 
Introduction to comparative judicial politics, focusing on the relationship between law and politics in cross-national perspective, as well as on the functioning of supranational and international legal entities in the international system. Offered: jointly with LSJ 367.
Department Requirements: 
Comparative Politics Field
International Relations Field
GE Requirements: 
Social Sciences (SSc)
Last updated: 
March 21, 2023 - 10:01pm