SMNR: Explorations in Constitutional Law & Politics Around the Globe

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Day Time Location
MON, WED 3:45 - 5:35 pm TNH 3.116

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SEMINAR: EXPLORATIONS IN CONSTITUTIONAL LAW & POLITICS AROUND THE GLOBE Victor Ferreres Comella. This seminar will explore some of the most important constitutional issues around the globe today. We will start with fundamental questions of constitutional design. How should constitutions be enacted? Who should participate in the framing and ratification of the constitutional text? How difficult should it be to amend a constitution? One big challenge is the creation of a durable framework for liberal democracy in the context of nations emerging from tyranny and/or violent ethno-racial conflict. Constitution-framers have debated and sometimes adopted direct forms of ethno-racial group representation in national legislatures, as well as federalism arrangements that give rival groups their “own” territorial based states or provinces. What are the pros and cons of such devices for overcoming deep conflicts? Not every effort to constitutionally weld together different ethno-racial groups or “nations” succeeds. The fragility of some efforts gives rise to the recurrent problem of secession. Should constitution-framers make any provision for it? And whether they do or not, how should courts address the issue when it arises – as it has in the recent past, in Canada and in parts of Europe?

We will also take up a variety of cutting-edge issues in the domain of constitutional rights and their interpretation and enforcement by courts. Here we will discuss different ways of structuring the judiciary in a number of countries. We will also examine such topics as the ways constitutional systems treat “hate speech,” the ways they address lawmakers’ efforts to outlaw various forms of public religious observance like the wearing of the veil or burka, and the ways that courts seek to enforce so-called “positive” or “social” rights like the rights to health, housing, welfare and education. A further topic concerns the mechanisms democracy can use to protect itself against erosion caused by internal forces. How tolerant should democracy be towards anti-democratic groups? We will also discuss how globalization has affected the ability of national governments to pursue domestic policies for the common good. How should international organizations be structured, and how should they interact with national authorities, to better serve the interests of the people?    

Note: This seminar will be taught during the first half of the Spring Semester.

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Important Class Changes

Date Updated
01/08/2023 Room(s) changed
11/02/2022 Room(s) changed