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POSC 130g Lecture Notes Week 1

by: Adrianna Robakowski

POSC 130g Lecture Notes Week 1 POSC 130

Adrianna Robakowski
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About this Document

These notes cover the first week of lectures, Tuesday and Thursday, from POSC 130g with Professor Renteln
Law, Politics and Public Policy
Alison Dundes Renteln
Class Notes




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This 6 page Class Notes was uploaded by Adrianna Robakowski on Friday August 26, 2016. The Class Notes belongs to POSC 130 at University of Southern California taught by Alison Dundes Renteln in Fall 2016. Since its upload, it has received 10 views. For similar materials see Law, Politics and Public Policy in Political Science at University of Southern California.


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Date Created: 08/26/16
LECTURE 8/23    Course Objectives:  ­ Role, function, and impact of key legal and political institutions  ­ Famous historical debates over due process, eugenics, civil rights, and  federalism  ­ Overcome phobia over legalese  ­ “The politics of interpretation”  ­ Develop ability to [​analyze] c ​ omplex social issues    SOCIAL issues in the 21st century  ­ Rise of corporations and non­state actors  ­ Challenges of technological innovation  ­ Biomedical ethics and threat to privacy  ­ Right to anonymity ­ to be forgotten ???  ­ Globalization of law    Themes  ­ Intro to American legal system = comparative perspective  ­ What constitutes a legal system  ­ How to balance social interests and individual rights  ­ Courts are ​POLITICAL INSTITUTIONS  ­ Important questions end up in the courts  ­ Judicial branch is counter­majoritarian  ­ Majority sometimes swayed and courts help to make sure majority follows  constitution BUT...courts can have a lot of power and are NOT politically  accountable  ­ Accountability versus Independence  ­ 1803 Marbury v Madison (Judicial Review)  ­ Should judicial review be allowed ???  ­ Should judges have to follow precedent?  ­ Stare decisis  ­ We have have a ​common law ​system  ­ What rights do we have ???  ­ Difference between I ​ DEAL and the REAL    [Right to food, shelter and economic rights many other countries have that WE  DO NOT]    IDEAL/REAL dichotomy    Law and Justice  ­ What is the relationship between L ​ AW and JUSTICE ???  ­ Schools of jurisprudence (legal philosophy):  ­ Positivism​ (law is considered to be any laws from the state, apart from  morality)  ­ Natural Law (​“a law that is unjust is not a law”)  ­ Thomas Aquinas  ­ Historical School​ (justice to reflect the values of a community)  ­ What happens if the law deviates too far from justice ???  ­ Does the legitimacy of the system depend on consent ???    The Queen v. Dudley and Stephens (1884)  ­ The case of the Mignonette  ­ Legal precedent on the defense of necessity  ­ 3 older men ate the cabin boy (lost at sea)  ­ Charged for willful murder after being rescued by a German ship  ­ Judge manipulated the case; sentenced to death  ­ Took case away from the jury  ­ Public opinion shifter after the decision    Procedural History  ­ Judge Barron Huddleston, peculiar procedure  ­ Appeal to Queen’s Court Bench raised defenses  ­ Jurisdiction = beyond reach of law, in state of nature  ­ Volition = desperate conditions, actions not voluntary  ­ Utilitarianism = if nobody was eaten all would have died  ­ Shouldn’t be acquitted, but should be excused (insanity?)  [Death sentence imposed anyway, first time in 100 years. Unusual sentence, usually for  treason]  ­ Applied for a pardon, did get off on a shorter sentence    Is the value of life an absolute?  ­ Not using others as a means to the end  ­ How can you have war if the right to life is an absolute?  [Abortion, war, death penalty, euthanasia (right to die) = ALL PROBLEMATIC]    Did the absence of a fair procedure matter ?  What is the significance of consent to the lottery ?  Are those in a lifeboat in a state of nature beyond the reach of the law ?  Should dependents influence the judgement ?  What is the significance of tension between law and public values  (Holmes/Coleridge) ?   If law and justice diverge, can this undermine the legitimacy of the legal system?    LECTURE 8/25    Stare decisis = ​rule of precedent  ­ Common law system  ­ Conflicting  ­ Makes social change difficult on occasion  ­ Not used in all legal systems  ­ International Courts    Utilitarianism = consequential (decide what is moral based on what will follow)  ­ Greatest good for the greatest number  ­ Most Americans think this way  Categorical = intrinsic morality  ­ Never treat someone as a means to an end    Williams v. Walker­Thomas Furniture Company (1965)  ­ Civil case = people suing for money (payment of damages)  ­ Contracts, most litigation  ­ 21 states with death penalty, community service, incarceration = criminal  cases  ­ INJUNCTION = judge orders someone to do something or not do something  ­ Dog who barks, go to court for the nuisance, make the dog do something  (owners)  ­ REMEDIES = the powers a judge has  [(Criminal Law = prosecution) v. (Civil Litigation = money)  (Common Law = England, USA, follow precedence) v. (Civil Law = France, Germany,  don’t follow precedent)]  ­ Conflict between law and justice if there is offer and acceptance, courts are not  supposed to look into substance  ­ If all rules and requirements were followed  ­ US Court of Appeals, District of Columbia  ­ Contract law = civil law  ­ Doctrine of Unconscionability = the absence of meaningful choice, contract  so unfair it shouldn’t be enforced  ­ Williams bought item on installment plan  ­ Contract said that if Williams defaulted on one item, all would be  repossessed  ­ Couldn’t pay off one item until all were payed off  ­ Bought stereo for $500, defaulted  ­ Williams lived on $218 government check a month, with ​7 children  [company was aware of this]  ­ Judge Skelly Wright noted there is no precedent, doesn’t condemn company but  doesn’t enforce contract  ­ Risks of not enforcing contracts ???    [The absence of meaningful choice on the part of one of the parties together with  contract terms that are unreasonably fair to one of the parties]  ­ May be negotiated by a gross inequality in bargaining power  ­ Deceptive sales practice, commercially unreasonable contract, on party  with very little education  ­ Judge Wright’s decision and potential impact on business    UNCONSCIONABILITY  ­ This doctrine includes the absence of meaningful choice for one party and terms  unreasonably favorable to the other party    [Courts acting in a progressive manner, can help speak for minorities    VERSUS    Don’t have as much accountability, life tenure]    ­ Requires analysis of all the circumstances surrounding the transaction  ­ Contract may be void because of fraud, duress, etc.    IMPLICATIONS  ­ Does consents confer legitimacy on legal transactions and regimes?  ­ What are the implications of law departing from justice?    Questions about the Nature of Law  ­ How do we distinguish law from politics (the state)?  ­ What is the relationship between law and morality?  ­ What is the difference between law and custom, or is all law customary?    Common views of LAW  ­ Statutes (not statues)  ­ Court decisions (common law system)  ­ Administrative agencies orders  ­ Executive orders  ­ Treaties (bilateral, multilateral)  ­ Rules  ­ Mandates  ­ Decree  ­ Ordinances = cities    Institutions  ­ Must law be associated with any particular institution?    3 SCHOOLS OF JURISPRUDENCE IN THE WESTERN TRADITION  ­ PHILOSOPHICAL SCHOOL/NATURAL LAW  ­ Law and morals overlap  ­ St. Thomas Aquinas (1225­1274) divine inspiration  ­ Lon Fuller = inner core of morality (is the whole system just or unjust?)  ­ Link between law and rational character of “man” = ability to reason  ­ Implications for fidelity to law...civil disobedience?  ­ ANALYTICAL SCHOOL/LEGAL POSITIVISM  ­ Law tied to the state  ­ Command theory or imperative theory  ­ Law and morality are distinct from each other (law is tied to politics)  ­ John Austine = law as a rule backed by force  [Did the Nazi’s have a legal system? Debate between Natural and Positivism]  ­ H.L.A Hart = ​The Concept of Law  ­ A legal system is the union of ​primary (rules by which a society  operates, “don’t marry your sister”, specific)​ and ​secondary  rules (whatever is able to help us validation primary rules, Bill  of Rights, are primary rules true?, wider concepts)  ­ Rule of Recognition = secondary rules that tell us which primary rules are  valid  ­ HISTORICAL SCHOOL  ­ Law reflect value system of a given society  ­ Karl von Savigny (1779­1861)   ­ Volksgeist (spirit of the people)  ­ Law as common consciousness of the people  ­ Sir Henry Maine = legal evolutions  ­ Sociological Jurisprudence ­ competing interests (Judge Skelly  Wright)  ­ Legal realism (looking at behavior of judges)  ­ “Gastronomic” jurisprudence  ­ Jerome Frank, Karl Llewelyn  ­ Law and society movement  ­ Critical Legal Studies 


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