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Instructor Class Description

Time Schedule:

James A. Chamberlain
LSJ 367
Seattle Campus

Comparative Law and Courts

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.

Class description

Are you interested in why law and courts matter for international and comparative politics and policy? This course, a basic introduction to comparative judicial politics, is targeted at undergraduate students who are interested in learning about the interaction between law, courts and politics in countries throughout the world. This class is a required pre-requisite course for the Law, Societies and Justice program and consists of both large lectures and smaller quiz sections. We begin by critically examining the (alleged) functions of courts: to provide for “order,” resolve disputes, and to enforce legal norms. We then turn to constitutional politics at the nation-state level, asking how constitutional courts have changed national policies and empowered individuals with new rights. Next we study the politics of supranational courts, including the European Court of Justice and the European Court of Human Rights. We will end by examining a newly evolving international court, the International Criminal Court.

Student learning goals

Be familiar with judicial and political systems outside the US, including at the international level.

Have the tools to conduct comparative legal research

Understand debates about the political significance of courts

General method of instruction


Recommended preparation

Class assignments and grading

Students will take a midterm (25 %) and a final exam (30%), as well as write an 8-10 page research paper (30%) on the functioning and political impact of a non-US court of their choice. Class participation makes up the remaining 15 % of the final grade.

The information above is intended to be helpful in choosing courses. Because the instructor may further develop his/her plans for this course, its characteristics are subject to change without notice. In most cases, the official course syllabus will be distributed on the first day of class.
Last Update by James A. Chamberlain
Date: 01/24/2014