Spring 2011

Law and Political Emergency

Listed in: Law, Jurisprudence, and Social Thought, as LJST-45


Nasser Hussain (Section 01)


(Analytic Seminar) This course introduces students to one of the more sustained problems in jurisprudence and legal theory: what happens to a constitutional order when it is faced with extraordinary conditions such as rebellion, war and terrorism. While it is generally agreed that rules, rights and procedures may be temporarily suspended, it is less clear which rights, and who decides on the suspension (the executive alone or in some combination with the legislature, with or without oversight by the courts). While these questions have now become familiar to us--and this course will guide students through the policy shifts and court battles in the United States since 9/11, from the issue of enemy combatants to the use of Guantanamo Bay as a detention center--we will take a more theoretical and historical approach to these questions. Thus we will look at the earliest use of some emergency techniques by the British in the colonies, Lincoln’s suspension of habeas corpus during the Civil War and the notorious Article 48 of the Weimar Constitution, which has often been blamed for facilitating the rise of the Nazis. We will end by examining alternative methods for contending with emergency.

Requisite: LJST 01 or 10 or consent of the instructor. Limited to 15 students. Spring semester. Professor Hussain.

LJST 45 - L/D

Section 01
M 02:00 PM - 04:00 PM CONV 208

ISBN Title Publisher Author(s) Comment Book Store Price
Enemy Aliens N Y Press/WW Norton 2005 David Cole Amherst Books TBD
Constitutional Dictatorship: Crisis Government in the Modern Democracies Princeton University Press 1948 CLinton Rossiter and William Quirk Amherst Books TBD
The Constitution of Law: Legality in a Time of Evergency Cambridge University Press 2006 David Dyzenhaus Amherst Books TBD
When Governments Break the Law: The Rule of Law and the Prosecution of the Bush Administration NYU Press 2010 Austin Sarat and Nasser Hussain, eds. Amherst Books TBD

These books are available locally at Amherst Books.


2024-25: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2008, Spring 2009, Spring 2011, Fall 2011, Spring 2013, Fall 2013