JUNIOR SEMINAR: Comparative Judicial Politics

Spring 2016
W 2:00-4:00
791 Barrows
Course Description

We are currently experiencing a global expansion of judicial power. In stable democracies, transitional societies and even autocracies, courts have become central actors in national politics and policymaking. Today, major political controversies often end up in court and are decided by judges, rather than by elected legislators serving in national parliaments. How do we explain this tremendous growth of judicial power and courts newly expanded roles in politics and policymaking? And what are the consequences of this judicialization of politics and policymaking for majoritarian institutions and democratic practices? 

This course provides an introduction to the political science of law and courts. This is not a course on constitutional law, and the focus will not be on the development of legal doctrines or the reasoning of important cases. Instead, we will evaluate law and courts as political institutions and judges as political actors and policy-makers across different types of political systems. Topics will include: the foundations of judicial independence, the relationship between the courts and other branches of government (e.g., judicial oversight of the bureaucracy), the sources of judicial power, the rights revolution and the role of courts in democratic consolidation. Courts in the U.S., France, Egypt, Turkey and Taiwan will be examined.


The Junior Seminars are intense writing seminars which focus on the research area of the faculty member teaching the course. The seminars provide an opportunity for students to have direct intellectual interactions with faculty members while also giving the students an understanding for faculty research.


Junior seminars fulfill upper division requirements for the major.


Subfield:   Comparative Politics

Note: This description is from Spring 2015


Political Science Majors of Junior and Senior status (must be 3rd or 4th year students with at least 60 units completed) with a minimum overall UC GPA of 3.3.  Students must place themselves on the waitlist through TeleBEARS in Phase II. Priority may be given to students who have not yet taken a junior seminar.  Selection and notification will occur in mid-January 2016.