Western Law

5821C 001 Comparative Constitutional Law (ST)

Essay RequirementYes, this course will satisfy the Faculty of Law essay requirement
Enrollment Restriction25
Instruction Lectures and discussion. Students are expected to come to each class prepared to make contributions, and will be required to write a 20-30 page paper. A list of paper topics will be provided, but students may suggest their own topics (which must be approved by the instructor). Students will make short class presentations based on the topic of their paper.
Assessment Participation and class presentation: 20%

Written paper (20-30 double-spaced pages): 80%

Materials A reading list of primary legal materials and scholarly analysis will be provided by the instructor. It will be divided into main texts and suggested further reading.
Library MaterialsClick here for Library Materials for this Course
Description This course will examine and compare the constitutional systems of four countries: the United States, the United Kingdom, Germany and Canada. We will study structural aspects of constitutions and processes of lawmaking and adjudication, as well as substantive constitutional law on topics such as freedom of speech and religion; privacy; and equality and discrimination. We will consider the degree to which variations in substantive law between countries can be explained by underlying structural features and institutional processes. Why, for example, are certain forms of "hate speech" constitutionally protected under the First Amendment in the United States but not in other countries? The structural features on which we will focus include the following:

  1. the power of courts to review or strike down legislation;
  2. judicial independence and appointment procedures;
  3. electoral systems and the composition of legislative bodies;
  4. the nature of executive power in parliamentary and presidential systems;
  5. the division of powers between national and regional bodies and other aspects of federalism; and
  6. amendment and other methods of constitutional change

There are a number of important differences and similarities between the four constitutional systems regarding these points. Students will be asked to reflect upon the underlying reasons for this, and upon the implications of constitutional choices.