Recent constitutional reconstructions in various parts of the world have called new attention to the problems of institutional design of political systems. In this course we will examine the design and implementation of national constitutions. In particular, we will address the following questions. What are the basic elements of constitutions? How do these elements differ across time, across region, and across regime type? What is the process by which states draft and implement constitutions? What models, theories, and writings have influenced the framers of constitutions?
In the first half of the course, we will review the historical roots of constitutions and investigate their provisions and formal characteristics. We will also discuss the circumstances surrounding the drafting of several exemplary or noteworthy constitutions, from various regions of the world. We will then examine particular features of institutional design in depth. These will include judicial review, presidentialism vs. parliamentarism, federalism, and the relationship of the national legal system to international law.
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