Categories: Municipal and Local Government Constitutional Law

Comparative Constitution-Making (history, theory & practice)

Course Page for Fall 2022 - Klug, Heinz

Thomas Jefferson argued that each generation has the right to govern itself and thus constitutions should last for no longer than nineteen years. A recent academic study found that in fact the average life of constitutions across the globe is around nineteen years. While the U.S. Constitution is of much greater vintage, State constitutions have indeed been rewritten more frequently. When one takes constitutional amendments into consideration, there is a much greater degree of constitutional change then what we normally assume. The last two decades have produced many new constitutions and a variety of constitution-making processes around the globe, often with direct involvement by U.S. lawyers serving as advisors to different parties. Furthermore, drafting constitutions, whether for clubs, corporations or communities is more ubiquitous than what we often assume. Students in this course will both explore the theory and practice of constitution-making as well as engage in a semester long simulation in which the class will be divided into different groups who will represent different specified interests. Based on a simulated state-of-affairs they will negotiate and produce their own draft constitution over the course of the semester. The class will meet for two 80-minute classes per week with the first class discussing the theory and history of different constitution-making experiences both in the United States and from a comparative perspective. The second class of each week will be devoted to the simulation, in which the groups will both work together and negotiate with one another based on short written position papers and presentations each group will make related to the different constitutional issues that will be discussed and negotiated in class. The final grade will be based both on the position papers as well as a long paper on any aspect of constitution-making a student chooses to focus on.

Recent Offerings of this course by this instructor

Fall 2022
Fall 2021

Race, Class & Democratic Legitimacy

Course Page for Fall 2022 - Coleman, Franciska

Race, Class and Democratic Legitimacy.

This course will: juxtapose political theories of republicanism and democratic citizenship with U.S. Constitutional entitlements to participation, representation and minimum responsiveness; explore the gap between theory, law, and practice for those who are disadvantaged by race and class; examine the efforts, successes, and failures of the Civil Rights Movement, Occupy Wallstreet Movement and Black Lives Matter Movement in closing the gap between theory, law and practice.

Recent Offerings of this course by this instructor

Fall 2022
Fall 2021

WI Constitution, Law & Society

Course Page for Spring 2023 ZPO - Monette, Richard

This course will be an exercise in ‘constitutionalism’. The course will address not only court opinions interpreting the State constitution, but will spend significant time with the document itself. We will cover the history of the document from its initial drafting through amendment exercises, including currently proposed amendments. The class will actually read the State Constitution and discuss its historical context, overall logic, and meaning: i.e., is this document one of restricted, expressly enumerated powers; or is it a wholesale grant of plenary authority (or power) to the government institutions it establishes? We will do a textual analysis particularly focusing on the relationships between and among various Articles, sections, and provisions. While we all have learned the importance of the basic ‘separation of powers’ between legislative, executive, and judicial functions, this course will teach that, as important as it is to separate powers in government, perhaps it is equally if not even more important to separate powers from government. As a result we will study the relationship(s) between the constitution and the ‘liberty sphere’ where the citizenry, property, and societal institutions reside (i.e., corporations, unions, families, marriages, religions, churches, political parties, etc.)

The course will focus on certain constitutional provisions and developments unique or peculiar to our State’s constitution, including legislative committees playing a participant role in the executive or administrative process even after enactment of a law; legislators having standing to file suit; the idea of the ‘constitutional office’; the ever-looming ‘partial-veto’; the lengthy provisions on non-governmental social issues du jour – i.e., gaming, the Public Trust Doctrine, anti-gay marriage, as well as other hot-button issues today: redistricting, selection of judges, open meetings, resurrecting a meaningful State Bill of Rights, and the constitutional amendment process. Additional readings may include a book by Professor Dinan on State constitutions generally as well as several law review articles on the Wisconsin Constitution.

The course, however, will not be all constitutional theory. We will study how law is made is Wisconsin. We will study the structure and processes of the Wisconsin court system. We will look at administrative processes in general including, for example, our contested rule-making requirements. Several guest speakers will be invited to present on their respective areas of government practice or expertise.

The course will be offered for 2 or 3 credit option. Both the 2 and 3-credit requirements will include one two hour class session per week and a two-hour final exam. The 3-credit requirement will add a paper from 5 to 7 (10-15 double-spaced) page paper.

Recent Offerings of this course by this instructor

Spring 2023 ZPO
Spring 2022
Spring 2021