James A. Chamberlain
POL S 367
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 LSJ 367.
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
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.