Comparative Constitutional History, Spring 2007

Thursday 3-5 PM

Holland Hall 350


Professor:                Elizabeth Dale

Office hours:            Thursday 10-11AM & 1:30-2:15 at law school (Room 240E, library)

                               By appointment at Keene Flint, main campus



Required books (at law school bookstore):


Jacobsohn, Apple of Gold (1993)

Klug, Constituting Democracy (2000)

Brown, Constitutions in a Nonconstitutional World (2001)

Kuhn, Origins of the Modern Chinese State (2002)

Moore and Robinson, Partners for Democracy (2004)

Fitzsimmons, Remaking of France (1994)

Brzezinski, Struggle for Constitutionalism in Poland (1998)

Berg and Geyer, Two Cultures of Rights (2006)

Anastapolo, Liberty, Equality, Modern Constitutionalism (1999)

Langley, The Americas in the Age of Revolution (1998)



Online resources: (online archive of news and other resources about comparative constitutionalism) (collection of constitutions, mostly modern) (another collection of modern constitutions, in English translation) (collection of mostly US constitutional and legal documents) (collection of constitutions in the Americas, mostly in Spanish/Portugese but with English discussion)





                               Class presentation:             25% of grade

                               Book review:                     25% of grade

                               15 page paper:                   50% of grade


                               The class presentation involves being the “class expert” on one of the documents assigned for a given week. Two students may be experts (on different documents) in the same week.


                               The book review is a 5-7 page (double spaced) analysis of one of the books on the book review list. You may substitute a book of your own choosing, but you must get my permission to do so and you must have that approval by Feb. 22.


                               The 15 page paper (double spaced) will be a historical look at one country (or region) we studied in class. Your paper can focus on a particular constitutional problem (how and why does the South African constitution recognize social rights?), offer a comparison between two or more constitutions (how has citizenship changed in Mexico’s constitutions over time? What are the points of resemblance between the post war constitutions of Germany and Japan?), or provide a general historical overview (What was the historical context of the writing of the Brazilian constitution?). By way of other examples, you might look at the way the Mexican constitution of 1917 has evolved in the years since it was written and explain why some of the changes were made. You could write a history of the Meiji Constitution of Japan (1889). You could look at one of the nineteenth century Latin American constitutions discussed in Langley, and explore its treatment of citizenship. You could compare two constitutions written in roughly the same period, one that we read for class and one that we did not read. You could take one of the documents in Anastopolo and consider how and why one of the constitutions deals with the same issues in a different way.


You will need to give me a preliminary paper topic on March 1, and a draft (which I will not grade but will comment on) is due to me no later than April 12. You must do a draft and turn in a preliminary paper topic, failure to do so will mean that I dock your paper grade by 5%.


Book List



Weekly readings:


Jan 11: Miguel Schor, “Constitutionalism through the Looking Glass of Latin America,” vol 41 Texas International Law Journal 1 (2006); “General Introduction” and Table of Contents, Anastopolo, Liberty, Equality; Declaration of Independence (in Anastopolo book, also available online).


Jan. 18: main reading: Fitzsimmons, Remaking of France; Constitution of 1791 (France)

Documents: Patrick Henry speech (Anastopolo); Declaration of the Rights of Man (France, 1789, Anastopolo);


Jan 25: Langley, Americas in the Age of Revolution;


Feb. 1: main reading: Gargarella, Roberto. “Towards a Typology of Latin American Constitutionalism, 1810-1860. Latin American Research Review 39 (2004): 141-153 (on line, check UF e-journals); Doorenspleet, Renske. “Reassessing the Three Waves of Democratization,” World Politics 52 (2000): 384-406 (available on line, check UF e-journals).

Document: Constitution of Mexico (1824);


Feb. 8: Documents: Constitution of the Confederate States of America (1861); Constitution of Mexico (1857) (in Spanish); Mill On Liberty (excerpt from Anastopolo)


Feb. 15: main reading: Kuhn, Origins of the Modern Chinese State

Documents:  Constitution of the Empire of Japan (1889); Stephen, Liberty, Equality, Fraternity (from Anastopolo)


Feb. 22: Documents: Constitution of Mexico, 1917; Weimar Constitution (Germany) (1919) (in English)


March 1: main reading: Moore and Robinson, Partners for Democracy

Documents: Constitution of Japan (1947); German Basic Laws (1949)


March 8: main reading: Jacobsohn, Apple of Gold

Documents:  Israel’s Basic Laws

                               *** book report due***


March 15: Spring break


March 22: main reading: Brzenzski, Struggle for Constitutionalism in Poland

Document: Constitution of Poland (1997)


March 29: main reading: Klug, Constituting Democracy

Document: Constitution of the Republic of South Africa (1997)


April 5: main reading: Brown, Constitutions in a Nonconstitutional World

Document:  Saudi Arabia Basic Laws (1993)


April 12: Berg and Geyer, Two Cultures of Rights


April 19: no session, paper conferences


April 26: papers due