Do you want a constitution with that?
I am going to think of this class as a mini constitutional convention. Although it is not every day one gets to write a constitution (much less write one anyone will actually pay attention to), Iraq will soon get a new constitution, the EU is fighting over its constitution, and Texas could use a new constitution to replace the awkward reconstruction-era one it has now. Accordingly, this is actually a study in current events.
Course Description:So, if I find that I have squandered my legal education on a buch of pie-in-the-sky theory courses and can't find a real job, at least when selling the product of my fine liberal arts education, I'll always be able to respond: "Do you want a constitution with that?"
This seminar will look at various issues that arise when one tries to design a constitution from scratch (rather than interpret one that is already in being). One might begin with the question of who gets to design a constitution in the first place, and with what legitimacy. And how is the handiwork of the constitutional designers turned into a "real" constitution, i.e., accepted as the basic framework? This raises the question of ratification procedures. Of course most of the attention will be focused on classic issues, most of them structural: What should the election system look like, and why? Parliamentary or presidential system? What should the judiciary look like [currently very important!](e.g., life tenure, appointment process, control over docket, etc.)? Under what circumstances is federalism a desirable constitutional system, with what ramifications? (E.g., should the constitution mention the possibility of secession?) Should there be an explicit "Bill of Rights" and, if so, what form should it take? Should a constitution include "positive" welfare rights? Should a constitution countenance its own "suspension" during a time of emergency? We will look at a variety of constitutions from around the world, including the newly drafted Iraqi constitution, as well as political science and law review literature relevant to the issues raised. [emphasis added]