Spring 2020

Legal Institutions and Democratic Practice

Listed in: Law, Jurisprudence, and Social Thought, as LJST-103

Formerly listed as: LJST-03  |  LJST-23


Lawrence R. Douglas (Section 01)


This course will examine the relationship between legal institutions and democratic practice. How do judicial decisions balance the preferences of the majority and the rights of minorities? Is it possible to reconcile the role that partisan dialogue and commitment play in a democracy with an interest in the neutral administration of law? How does the provisional nature of legislative choice square with the finality of judicial mandate? By focusing on the United States Supreme Court, we will consider various attempts to justify that institution’s power to offer final decisions and binding interpretations of the Constitution that upset majoritarian preferences. We will examine the origins and historical development of the practice of judicial review and consider judicial responses to such critical issues as slavery, the New Deal, and abortion. The evolving contours of Supreme Court doctrine will be analyzed in the light of a continuing effort to articulate a compelling justification for the practice of judicial intervention in the normal operation of a constitutional democracy.

Limited to 40 students. Spring Semester. Professor Douglas.

If Overenrolled: Priority to LJST majors, and then by seniority.

Cost: $52.00 ?

LJST 103 - L/D

Section 01
Tu 11:30 AM - 12:50 PM CHAP 201
Th 11:30 AM - 12:50 PM CHAP 201

This is preliminary information about books for this course. Please contact your instructor or the Academic Coordinator for the department, before attempting to purchase these books.

ISBN Title Publisher Author(s) Comment Book Store Price
Federalist Papers Random Alexander Hamilton Amherst Books TBD
Two Treatises of Government Cambridge John Locke Amherst Books TBD

These books are available locally at Amherst Books.


Other years: Offered in Spring 2008, Spring 2010, Spring 2012, Spring 2013, Spring 2015, Spring 2016, Spring 2019, Spring 2020, Spring 2021, Fall 2021, Fall 2022, Fall 2023, Fall 2024