The class starts from the premise that the institutions that form a legal system have distinct advantages and disadvantages and that some institutions may be more efficacious in one regulatory context than in another. Students will be exposed to the multiple forms of lawmaking, ranging from the elaboration of common law and constitutional rules by judges, to the fashioning of statutes by members of Congress representing disparate constituencies, to the dissemination of regulations by executive agencies, to the use ballot initiatives to put legal rules up for direct vote by the people themselves. Together these forms of law constitute the American legal system. Each differs with respect to such criteria as democratic accountability and legitimacy, efficiency, stability, and capacity to incorporate policy expertise. Students will learn to think critically about the costs and benefits of each institution when solving different kinds of policy problems.
Instructor: Susan Ostermann