Comparative Law & Politics

Course Information

Registration Information

Meeting Times

Day Time Location
THU 3:30 - 6:30 pm BAT 5.102


Much has been written recently about the increasing judicialization of politics around the world. But is it really happening? And if so, what is it? Is judicialization good, bad or indifferent? Good for whom? This course examines the role that courts and law play in political systems around the world, including the United States. We begin with an examination of the basic logic of courts and law, and cover such topics as the differences across legal traditions, the creation of constitutional courts, the nature of judicial decision-making, judicial independence, the capacity of courts to effect social change, etc. The ultimate goal is to understand the conditions under which courts are or become consequential actors within the overall social and political system. We will address a number of important questions about the nature of courts: Who benefits when courts become more important? Who is really behind increases in judicial power? Can we realistically expect courts to act on behalf of minorities, and if so, which minorities? The course should be especially relevant to those with an interest in comparative law and legal systems, comparative judicial behavior, the role of courts in politics and society, and the rule of law around the world. Because of its strong institutional focus, the course should also be relevant to those interested in comparative institutional analyses more generally. The readings will include materials on courts around the world, from the US and the rest of North America, to Latin America, Africa, the Middle East, Asia and Europe.