Section Description Provided by Instructor
Pending formal approval.
Instructor: Seyla Benhabib, Yale Law School
Sovereignty designates a concept, a practice as well as a set of institutions governing the relationship of states to one another and to their citizens and residents. It is a crucial element in the grammar of our political life since the 17th century. It means that there is an ultimate seat of public authority with the jurisdiction and capacity to exercise power over a demarcated territory. This model is often referred to as the ‘Westphalian paradigm.’
The international order since 1945, with the founding of the United Nations, the 1948 Declaration of Universal Human Rights, and the development of an international human rights regime has given rise to a dual-track political and normative system which on the one hand justifies and limits state sovereignty in accordance with the observance of human rights but on the other hand gives sovereign states the prerogative of upholding and enforcing these rights.
Judicial review institutions are mechanisms through which assertions of sovereignty are often examined in the name of rights. There is a lively literatures juxtaposing ‘strong’ to ‘weak’ judicial review and defending popular sovereignty against interference by high courts.
This course will undertake a multi-disciplinary study of these issues by drawing on literature from political philosophy, legal theory, history, and ethics.
Our focus will be on decisions by the European Court of Human Rights as well as the US Supreme Court on dignity, the extra-territorial extension of human rights, as well as refugee cases.
Readings from Hobbes, Kant, Arendt, Schmitt, Dworkin, Waldron, and Bellamy and cases.
PREREQUIISITES; This is an advanced, interdisciplinary seminar for students interested in philosophical and jurisprudential dimensions of sovereignty, rights and judicial review.
Admission to the course requires instructor permission Please write to Professor Benhabib at [email protected] by Monday, 5th November with a brief paragraph introducing yourselves and indicating your relevant background for the course.
Students must have a background of at least two courses in the history of modern political thought from Hobbes to Nietzsche; or have completed advanced work in philosophy of law or European Union law.
Please write to Professor Benhabib at [email protected] by December 20th with a brief paragraph introducing yourselves and indicating your relevant background for the course.
Method of Evaluation
J.D. Writing Credit
Minor (automatic), Major (only upon consultation)
LLM Writing Project
(only upon consultation)