Anno accademico 2023/2024 - Docente: IGNAZIO SPADARO

Risultati di apprendimento attesi

This course focuses on key legal issues on a global comparative level, with a special focus on the current state of democracy – and the challenges to it – around the world.
The course aims at providing skills and information for anyone looking for a robust knowledge of the major issues in some contemporary legal systems, also  in connection with political issues explored in the first module.

Modalità di svolgimento dell'insegnamento

Lessons are structured to provide Students with opportunities for discussion and active participation - then, they will only be in presence.

Prerequisiti richiesti

There is no formal prerequisite, but a good knowledge of topics covered in the political module is highly recommended.

Frequenza lezioni

Attendance is compulsory.

Contenuti del corso

The course is centred on the main current legal topics of comparative public law, with special consideration for those related to the modern concept of 'democracy' and 'rule of law'.

Starting fromthe second week, Students will be invited to give individual presentations about some case studies previously planned with the Teacher, as well as to discuss them with the class.

Testi di riferimento

- General part

[T1] M. Rosenfeld - A. Sajó (eds.), The Oxford Handbook of Comparative Constitutional Law, Oxford: OUP, 2013, ISBN 9780199578610, pp. 25-1347 (only pages 189-216, 217-232, 233-249, 250-268, 269-282, 283-297, 350-369, 481-500, 576-608, 609-627, 628-649, 650-670, 816-830, 859-873, 909-928).

- Selected topics

[T2] M. Makhari, “Post-colonial traditional courts in Botswana, the kingdom of Eswatini and South Africa”. African Journal of International and Comparative Law, no. 4/2023, pp. 445-458.


[T3] V. Agrawal, “Indian Judiciary vs. the U.S. Judiciary in Perspective of Judicial Review”. Indian Journal of Law and Legal Research, no. 6/2022-2023, pp. 1-24.


[T4] S. Rana, “Promoting Women’s Advancement in the Judiciary in the midst of Backlash: A Comparative Analysis of Representation and Jurisprudence in Key Domestic and International Fora”. Dickinson Law Review, no. 3/2023, pp.  693-734.


[T5] Y. Tsuji, “Marbury v. Madison and the Japanese Judiciary”. U.C. Davis Journal of International Law & Policy, no. 2/2021, pp. 223-240.


[T6] Ph. Johnson, “Sark, the Supreme Court and the Status of the Channel Islands: Or Barclay Bites Back”. The Jersey & Guernsey Law Review, no. 2/2016, pp. 126-140.

[T7] T. Ginsburg, M. Versteeg, “From Catalonia to California: Secession in Constitutional Law”. Alabama Law Review, no. 4/2019, pp. 923-985 (only pp. 933-954, 971-980).

[T8] T. Ginsburg, D. Lansberg-Rodriguez, M. Versteeg, “When to Overthrow Your Government: The Right to Resist in the World’s Constitutions”. UCLA Law Review, no. 5/2013, pp. 1184-1261 (only pp. 1207-1236).

[T9] D. Wilde, “A State within a State: Re-Examining the Federal Lands Question and its Effect on State Sovereignty”. William & Mary Environmental Law and Policy Review, no. 2/2023, pp. 489-516.

[T10] J. Woelk, “Forced Together, Never Sustainable? Post-Conflict Federalism in Bosnia and Herzegovina”. University of Kansas Law Review, no. 2/2022, pp. 251-274.

[T11] J. Wouters, A. Andrione-Moylan, “Federalism: A Lifeline for Belgium?”. Jura Falconis, 2020-2021, no. 57, pp. 755-771.

[T12] A. Ciancio, “What democracy for the European Political Union? Lessons for a European party system”. In U. Liebert, A. Jenichen (eds.), Europeanisation and Renationalisation. Learning from Crises for Innovation and Development, Opladen - Berlin - Toronto, Barbara Budrich, 2019, ISBN 9783847420972, pp. 281-294.

[T13] A. Byness, “The ebb and flow of democratization process in Africa”. Mizan Law Review, no. 1/2021, pp. 297-312.


[T14] W. Sadurski, “Constitutional Design: Lessons from Poland’s Democratic Backsliding”. Constitutional Studies, no. 6/2020, pp. 59-79.

[T15] M. Madden, “A Taxonomy on Constitutional Court Appointment Mechanisms in Federal Countries”. Indiana Journal of Constitutional Design, no. 1/2021, pp. 1-26.

[T16] I. Spadaro, “The use of cryptotype in the comparison by Supranational Courts: brief remarks from the ECJ’s judgement on the early retirement age for Polish Supreme judges”. Diritto pubblico europeo Rassegna online, no. 1/2023, pp. 101-125.

[T17] J. Ohnesorge, “Comparing Impeachment Regimes”. Duke Journal of Comparative and International Law, no. 2/2021, pp. 259-299.

[T18] S. Wang, “Indigenous Constitutionalism and Global Legitimacy: Excavating the Roots of Chinese Constitutionalism”. Yale Journal of International Law online, no. 46 (2021), pp. 99-125.

[T19] Bui Ngoc Son, “China’s Comparative Constitution”. Vanderbilt Journal of Transnational Law, no. 1/2021, pp. 1-30

[T20] J. Huang, “An analysis of human rights factors in Confucian tradition”. Journal of Human Rights, no. 2/2022, pp. 368-400.

[T21] F. Abedin, “Gender equality by international norms: an analysis on Hindu marriage and divorce laws in South Asia with special attention to Bangladesh”. Journal of Malaysian and Comparative Law, no. 1/2019, pp. 59-76.

[T22] P. Laufer-Ukeles, “The Power of Blood: The Many Faces of Women's Monthly Menses in Jewish Law & beyond”. Columbia Journal of Gender and Law, no. 41/2021, pp. 169-179.

[T23] R. Adawiyah, “The Reform of Muslim Women’s Rights in the Marriage Law of Indonesia and Malaysia”. Journal of Law, Policy and Globalization, no. 82 (2019), pp. 115-124.

[T24] T. Manwendra, “Law, Politics, and the Erasure of the Secular Constitutional Identity of India”. Comparative Constitutional Law and Administrative Law Journal, no. 1/2022, pp. 18-41.

[T25] M. ’Arafa, “‘Islamization’ of Egyptian law: Abd Alrazzaq Alsanhuri’s rule of law’s doctrine”. Charleston Law Review, no. 3/2023, pp. 419-454.

[T26] S. Gaylord, “Neutrality without a Tape Measure: Accommodating Religion after American Legion”. Ave Maria Law Review, no. 1/2021, pp. 25-90.

Please note that lecture notes referred to from T2 to T26 will be provided by the Teacher via Studium ( Besides, they may be supplemented at Students' request, in order to cover further topics of interest.

- Normative texts

For the retrieval of the texts of the Constitutions in English language, Students shall consult the website (Scientific Directors: prof. Z. Elkins, prof. T. Ginsburg, and prof. J. Melton), or a paper code at their choice, provided that it is updated at least to 2023.

Programmazione del corso

 ArgomentiRiferimenti testi
1The modern concept of ‘State’.T1, pp. 269-282
2Constitutions and the Rule of LawT1, pp. 189-216, 217-232, 233-249
3Judiciary and Constitutional Courts. // SELECTED TOPICS: (T2) Traditional Justice in some African Countries. / (T3) Indian vs. US judicial review. / (T4) Women’s Advancement in the Judiciary. / (T5) The influence of US judicial review on Japanese Judiciary.T1, pp. 816-830, 859-873 // T2, pp. 445-458 / T3, pp. 1-24 / T4, pp. 693-733 / T5, pp. 223-240.
4Sovereignty and Self-determination principle. // SELECTED TOPICS: (T6) British Crown’s quasi-feudal Dependencies. / (T7) Right to Self-determination vs. Right to secession. / (T8) The right to resist.T1, pp. 350-369, 481-500. // T6, pp. 126-140. /T7, pp. 933-954, 971-980. / T8, pp. 1207-1236.
5Federal vs. Unitary State. // SELECTED TOPICS: (T9) Common law federal legal systems. / (T10) Belgian multi-ethnic federalism. / (T11) Bosnia and Herzegovina’s multi-ethnic federalism. / (T12) EU political parties system.T1, pp. 576-608, 609-627 // T9, pp. 489-516. /T10, pp. 755-771. / T11, pp. 252-274. / T12, pp. 281-294.
6Democracy // SELECTED TOPICS: (T13) Democratization and Traditional Institutions in Africa. / (T14) Democratic backsliding in some European Countries. / (T15) Appointment mechanisms of Justices in some federal Countries. /  (T16) Rule of law backsliding and the ECJ.T1, pp. 250-268 // T13, pp. 229-250. / T14, pp. 59-79. / T15, pp. 1-26. / T16, pp. 101-125.
7Presidentialism vs. Parliamentarism. // SELECTED TOPICS: (T17) Impeachment. / (T18) Roots of Chinese constitutionalism / (T19) China's Comparative ConstitutionT1, pp. 628-649, 650-670. // T17, pp. 259-299. /T18, pp. 99-125. / T19, pp. 1-29.
8Constitutional rights and liberties, Gender constitutional issues // SELECTED TOPICS: (T20) Human rights under Confucian traditional law / (T21) Marriage law in Bangladesh / (T22) Women’s Monthly Menses in Jewish Law / (T23) Marriage law in Indonesia and Malaysia.T1, pp. 283-297, 397-416 // T20, pp. 368-400 / T21, pp. 59-76 / T22, pp. 169-179 / T23, pp. 115-124.
9Freedom of Religion // SELECTED TOPICS:  (T24) Crisis of Indian secularisation / (T25) Crisis of Egyptian secularisation. / (T26) US secularity.T1, pp. 909-928 // T24, pp. 59-79. / T25, pp. 419-154. / T26, pp. 25-90.

Verifica dell'apprendimento

Modalità di verifica dell'apprendimento

Each Student will be evaluated by taking into account:

  1. his/her active participation in debates held in class (20%);
  2. accuracy and clarity of his/her individual presentation on selected topics, held in class (40%);
  3. final interview on general part issues and topics, with special regard to those linked to the selected topic he/she has covered in his/her presentation (30%);
  4. final interview on another selected topic, different from that yet presented in class (10%).

Please note that since final assessment will be based on the overall knowledge shown by the Student, the distinction above should be intended as indicative only. Besides, grade from activities referred to in no. 2 may be increased by a wider examination interview (at the request of the Student him/herself).

Esempi di domande e/o esercizi frequenti

  • What does 'rule of law' mean?
  • What are similarities and differences between European and Non-European conception of the rule of law?
  • What is a federal State?
  • What is the role played by Constitutional Courts in democratic legal systems?
  • What is the so-called 'counter-majoritarian difficulty'?
  • What are current conceptions of religious neutrality of the State?
  • How politics and culture affect the protection of fundamental rights at national level?