Courses

Spring 2024

Problems of Constitutional Power (SA)
Subject associations
SPI 391

This course is about how U.S. constitutional law distributes policy-making power among and within the branches of the federal government; between the federal government and the states; between governing officials and the People they govern. It is not about what substantive policy should be, but about who does and should have the power to settle the answer. The course aims to provide students sufficient fluency in the language of law to excel in the world of U.S. public policy.

Instructors
Deborah N. Pearlstein
Law, Institutions and Public Policy (SA)
Subject associations
SPI 333 / SOC 326

This course will examine how institutions develop, vary in design, and shape public policy. Law will be a primary focus because it is central to the development of institutions in modern societies and provides the formal means for expressing and fixing policy. The course will cover a wide range of institutions- social, economic, and political- not only in an American context but also in comparative perspective.

Instructors
Paul E. Starr
Policing, Civil Rights and Social Change (CD or SA)
Subject associations
SPI 336

This course covers policing in the United States as it intersects with constitutional rights and racial justice. Topics will include studying the history of police institutions, from slave patrols and night watches to big city police departments; the constitutional framework for policing powers; various theories and tactics of policing, such as broken windows policing; policing practices in the context of schools, drug enforcement and immigration enforcement; and the rise of social movements seeking to change police's role in society, such as the Black Lives Matter movement.

Instructors
Udi Ofer
Making an Exoneree
Subject associations
SPI 499

In this intensive seminar, Princeton students have the opportunity to contribute to the exoneration of wrongfully convicted people. A select group of dedicated students will spend the semester as investigators, documentarians, and social justice advocates. The goal is to create a public documentary, website, and social media campaign that makes the case for the innocence of a wrongfully convicted person who is currently languishing in prison and deserves to be free.

Instructors
James Raymond Vreeland
The New Jersey Constitution: A Case Study of a Modern State Charter in Design and in Action (SA)
Subject associations
SPI 486

This seminar will present a case study of one state's constitutional structure by examining the design and operation of the 1947 New Jersey Constitution. The seminar will explore (1) the Constitution's remarkable history from its modern creation in 1947 and ensuing amendments adopted by the voters; (2) the distribution of state powers among the executive, legislative and judicial branches, and resultant inter-branch tensions; (3) a sampling of individual rights that are afforded greater protection under the NJ Constitution than under federal constitutional law; and (4) the importance of state constitutions co-existing within a federal system.

Instructors
John Farmer
Jack M. Sabatino
Legal Europe (EM or SA)
Subject associations
SPI 484 / ECS 483 / EPS 484

The European Union (EU) has its own legal system. So does the Council of Europe (COE), another international organization, famous for the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR). And so do each of the states that are members of the EU and COE. How do these multiple legal systems coordinate and sometimes clash? In Legal Europe, we will learn EU law, ECHR law and national law from multiple European states to explore how they work together (or not) to handle the toughest issues of our time, including democratic backsliding, violations of human rights, international security, economic policy, mass migration and nationalism.

Instructors
John Morijn
Kim Lane Scheppele
The Rule of Law
Subject associations
SPI 559

Considers role of law in gov't: When is a state constrained by law & when it may legitimately change/ignore the law? Use a range of materials from fiction to court cases, legal theory to political history, etc. Proceed by negative example, considering cases from the US: Lincoln's conduct during Civil War, Roosevelt's economic emergency, the Cold War, Nixonian exceptionalism, "war on terror" after 9/11. Also consider comparative examples: Russian Revolution, the collapse of the Weimar constitution, the breaks from communism in the "revolutions" of 1989 & beyond. Also Nuremberg Trials & Kosovar War.

Instructors
Kim Lane Scheppele
Comparative Constitutional Law (SA)
Subject associations
SPI 421 / POL 479 / CHV 470

This course will introduce students to contemporary constitutional law in comparative perspective. The emphasis will be on bringing together the main theories of constitutionalism; diverse regions that have been the scene of constitution-making in recent decades (including Central and Eastern Europe, and Latin and South America) in comparison with more 'consolidated' constitutional systems, and some of the main recent trends in constitutionalism (militant democracy, transitional constitutionalism, supranational constitution-making, constitutional populism) but with a firm focus on the question of judicial review and constitutional rights.

Instructors
Wojciech Sadurski

Fall 2023

Women, Law and Public Policy (SA)
Subject associations
SPI 373 / GSS 205

This course will explore how women's rights activists, lawyers, and legal scholars have considered legal institutions and law to be arenas and resources for transforming women's lives and gender norms, identities, and roles. Since the early 1970s, feminist legal scholars and lawyers have challenged traditional understandings of law and the core civic values of freedom, justice, and equality. Others have questioned whether litigation-centered approaches to reform have harmed more than helped advance the goal of women's equality and liberation.

Instructors
Lynda G. Dodd
Policy Advocacy Clinic Seminar
Subject associations
SPI 490

The Policy Advocacy Clinic provides a unique offering for students to learn about and participate in the policymaking process. This one-year, two semester program includes two core components: a fall semester academic seminar where students study the policymaking process and a spring semester field program where students engage in active campaigns to advance public policy. Topics will cover both the academic and practical, ranging from studying public policy theories and structures to developing the skills needed to engage in policy analysis, campaign planning, power-mapping, and the legislative process.

Instructors
Udi Ofer