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Sanford Levinson


Sanford Levinson



Sanford Levinson, who holds the W. St. John Garwood and W. St. John Garwood, Jr. Centennial Chair in Law, joined the University of Texas Law School in 1980. Previously a member of the Department of Politics at Princeton University, he is also a Professor in the Department of Government at the University of Texas. The author of over 350 articles and book reviews in professional and popular journals--and a regular contributor to the popular blog Balkinization--Levinson is also the author of four books: Constitutional Faith (1988, winner of the Scribes Award); Written in Stone: Public Monuments in Changing Societies (1998); Wrestling With Diversity (2003); and, most recently, Our Undemocratic Constitution: Where the Constitution Goes Wrong (and How We the People Can Correct It)(2006); and, most recently, Framed: America's 51 Constitutions and the Crisis of Governance (2012). Edited or co-edited books include a leading constitutional law casebook, Processes of Constitutional Decisionmaking (5th ed. 2006, with Paul Brest, Jack Balkin, Akhil Amar, and Reva Siegel); Reading Law and Literature: A Hermeneutic Reader (1988, with Steven Mallioux); Responding to Imperfection: The Theory and Practice of Constitutional Amendment (1995); Constitutional Stupidities, Constitutional Tragedies (1998, with William Eskridge); Legal Canons (2000, with Jack Balkin); The Louisiana Purchase and American Expansion (2005, with Batholomew Sparrow); and Torture: A Collection (2004, revised paperback edition, 2006), which includes reflections on the morality, law, and politics of torture from a variety of disciplinary perspectives. He received the Lifetime Achievement Award from the Law and Courts Section of the American Political Science Association in 2010.

He has been a visiting faculty member of the Boston University, Georgetown, Harvard, New York University, and Yale law schools in the United States and has taught abroad in programs of law in London; Paris; Jerusalem; Auckland, New Zealand; and Melbourne, Australia. He was a Fellow at the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton in 1985-86 and a Member of the Ethics in the Professions Program at Harvard in 1991-92. He is also affiliated with the Shalom Hartman Institute of Jewish Philosophy in Jerusalem. A member of the American Law Institute, Levinson was elected to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences in 2001. He is married to Cynthia Y. Levinson, a writer of children's literature, and has two children, Meira, a member of the faculty at the Harvard Graduate School of Education (after teaching in the Atlanta and Boston public school systems), and Rachel, a lawyer with the Brennan Center in Washington, D.C.


GOV 381L • Emergency Power & Const Theory

38900 • Spring 2012
Meets T 3:30PM-6:30PM TNH 3.114
(also listed as LAW 397S)

GOV 381L/LAW 397S 

Emergency Power and Constitutional Theory

Jeffrey K. Tulis & Sanford Levinson

Tuesdays, 3:30-5:30 at the Law School

This graduate seminar is open to PhD students as well as JD students.  There are no course prerequisites.  For the Government PhD program the course will count in both the political theory and public law fields.

"Emergency powers" have become a pervasive topic of contemporary political theory, political science, and law.  This seminar will therefore be highly interdisciplinary.  It will begin with a close examination of some classical political theorists who have written on the subject, including Machiavelli, John Locke, and Carl Schmitt (to name only three).  We will also look at key American political thinkers, including the authors of the Federalist Papers, Thomas Jefferson, and Abraham Lincoln.  We will obviously also look at a variety of cases, primarily from the United States Supreme Court, addressing the nature and limits of "emergency powers."  We will read studies in contemporary constitutional and political theory, including recent books by Clement Fatovic, Benjamin Kleinerman, and Bonnie Honig.  Finally the syllabus will contain a number of articles on emergencies in different policy areas.

It is important to realize that "emergencies" can arise in a number of different guises.  We are probably most aware of "national security emergencies" linked with war and terrorism.  But there are also emergencies provoked by breakdowns in the economy, by natural disasters, and by public health contagions.  All raises interestingly different problems, ranging from the identity of those we would like to make decisions to the particular powers we would grant them.

Students will be expected to write a seminar paper based on original research, though, with professorial approval, it will be possible to substitute an extended analytic review essay of one or more books relevant to the subject at hand.  Most important, though, is the expectation that students will be well prepared on the weeks' readings and be prepared to discuss them with one another.  To this end, students will also be asked to prepare and present a number of short "response papers" that will help serve to establish the agenda for each session's discussions.

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