Constitutional Strategies in Latin America

Course Information

Registration Information

Meeting Times

Day Time Location
MON, WED 3:30 - 5:20 pm TNH 3.126

Evaluation Method

Type Date Time Location
Floating take-home exam


I will teach the course for the second half of the spring semester. In 2011, the second half of the spring semester starts February 28, Monday. I will teach the course during seven weeks, which means that the last week I will teach will be the week of Monday April 18-Friday April 22. The goal of this course is to examine the different strategies that countries may pursue in order to realize constitutional ideals. We will try to draw lessons from different parts of the world, but our main focus will be Latin- America. We will deal, first, with foundational questions: What matters should the Constitution speak to, and how specific should its provisions be? How hard should it be to amend them in the future? Are social rights to be included? What should the Constitution say about the basic rules of the economic system? Concerning the principle of separation of powers, how should it be articulated? What, in particular, should be the relationship between the President and Congress? How does the presence of political parties affect the operation of the system? Another question we will explore relates to the best ways to guarantee the Constitution's status as higher law. Should the ordinary judiciary be entrusted with constitutional review of legislation, or should a special organ (whether a Constitutional Court, or a special chamber within the Supreme Court) be instituted for these purposes? A final theme concerns the relationship between the domestic legal system and international law. What role should the Inter-American Court of Human Rights play, for example, and how should its jurisprudence be enforced by domestic courts? In the area of economic cooperation and integration, as in NAFTA and MERCOSUR, how should the international and the domestic institutions and players interact with each other? Two credits. There will be a final exam. Writing a paper is an alternative option.