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LSJ 367 A: Comparative Law and Courts

Summer Term: 
Meeting Time: 
TTh 12:00pm - 2:10pm
* *
Joint Sections: 
POL S 367 A
Jonathan C Beck

Syllabus Description:

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Instructor:                 Jonathan Beck
Office:                          Smith 039
Office hours:           Tuesdays 10-12 and by appointment (Zoom link for office hours)

Tuesdays and Thursdays 12:00-2:10 p.m.
Summer Full Term | June 22, 2020 – August 21, 2020

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. The course concludes with an examination of the International Criminal Court.

Required Reading: There are required readings posted on the course Canvas website.


            Reading/Discussion Assignments (4 of 5)                 15%

            Discussant Assignment                                                        15%

            Essay 1                                                                                            20%

            Essay 2                                                                                            25%

            Essay 3                                                                                            25%

Assessment in this course will be based on the above criteria. To receive credit for this course, you must complete at least the three essays (4-6 pages), and otherwise earn a passing grade (grading scale on Canvas course site). There will be five reading/discussion assignments, of which you must complete 4; and every student will once during the quarter present on a day’s reading or, for those who can’t present, provide a supplement to a day’s readings to be distributed to course colleagues no later than two evenings before the reading is due (Sunday for a Tuesday lecture, Tuesday for a Thursday lecture). I will post the assignments for each of the assessment components on Canvas. Every student who completes this course will earn W credit.

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. May not be taken for credit if student has taken LSJ/JSIS B 366. Offered: jointly with POL S 367.
GE Requirements: 
Individuals and Societies (I&S)
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Last updated: 
June 5, 2020 - 2:40am