This course will examine some of the principal issues facing anyone charged with designing, as distinguished, say, from interpreting, a constitutional text for a political order. Very often, in the modern world, the polity in question would be involved in some kind of more-or-less momentous transition. Perhaps it would just have lost a war or be attempting to resolve a civil war (or attempted secession) by renegotiating the terms of political union. In any event, the course will be extremely comparative, in which, for example, the United States Constitution will be compared not only with other national or transnational constitutions (like the European Convention on Human Rights or the treaties constituting the contemporary European Union), but also with the constitutions of various American states, most of whom have constitutions that differ in extremely interesting ways from their national counterpart. In addition to by and large ignoring standard issues of "interpretation," we shall also pay far more attention to the basic structures of governance--e.g., presidential v. parliamentary systems; the consequences of bicameralism; different forms of gubernatorial or presidential veto; how judges are chosen and how long they serve; the difficulty of constitutional amendment--than on individual rights per so.
Although this is a "course," with the final grade being based, unless prior permission is given to right an extensive seminar paper, on a standard-model final examination, it should ideally have the feel of a seminar, which means that the course will work best if everyone is prepared for (almost all) of the classes and willing and able to discuss the issues presented.
Also, there will be a symposium organized by Prof. Levinson on January 21-23 on the implications of The Federalist Papers for constitutional designers in 2015, and attendance at that symposium particularly on Friday and Saturday morning, is a required part of the course. "Compensation" for the time spent then will be paid by omitting three classes that would otherwise be part of the schedule.
2:15 - 3:30 pm
1L and upperclass elective
Cross-listed with other school
Framed: America's 51 Constitutions....
Oxford U. Press
The The American State Constitutional Tradition
U. Kansas Press