Law and Politics

The complex relationship between law and political science fascinates a wide range of NYU Law faculty, and that interest is reflected in both their teaching and research.

Professors Samuel Issacharoff and Richard Pildes are the leading authorities on election law and literally created the field of the Law of Democracy, which views politics as a competitive market—a product of choices of institutional design. Their Law of Democracy course—the first of its kind in the country—deals with the law that structures democratic politics and the processes of democracy, with a primary focus on constitutional law. Subjects covered include the individual right to vote and participate; structural issues such as campaign finance, redistricting, and the role of associations such as political parties; the tension between majorities and minorities in the design of representative institutions; and the role of courts in overseeing democratic processes.

Law and politics also meet in the study of constitutional law and of federal courts. Professor Barry Friedman is a prominent constitutional scholar with an expertise in federal courts and their structure of adjudication. He teaches Federal Courts and the Federal System, Judicial Decisionmaking, and Criminal Procedure: Fourth and Fifth Amendments. Professor Lewis Kornhauser is interested in the structure of courts and the processes of adjudication as well as the nature of representative government.

Another intersection point is state and local government law. Professor Vicki Been '83 (on leave) leads the Colloquium on Law, Economics and Politics of Urban Affairs; Katrina Wyman teaches Land Use Regulation; and Professor Clayton Gillette offers a course in Local Government Law.

Global aspects of law and politics are covered in courses about international law, administrative law, and law and development. Professors Mattias Kumm, Benedict Kingsbury, David Golove, and Richard Stewart are interested in international issues such as comparative constitutional law and global administrative law and regulation. They teach courses including International Law, the Presidential Powers Seminar, Constitutional Law of War and Foreign Affairs, and the Administrative and Regulatory State Clinic. Professors Kevin Davis and Frank Upham study political economy and have written about the rule of law and law and development; they both teach a course entitled Law and Development, among others.

The Law School also hosts two of the most prominent political scientists in the legal realm: Professors Stephen Holmes and John Ferejohn. Holmes is a faculty advisor of the Center on Law and Security. His fields of specialization include the history of liberalism, the disappointments of democratization after communism, and the difficulty of combating terrorism within the limits of liberal constitutionalism. Ferejohn, an expert in political theory and the study of political institutions and behavior, began his career with an important study of Congress.

Law students interested in studying political science can take up to 10 credits from the NYU Department of Politics. The Law School also offers a JD/PhD program in politics and law. Students earn a PhD in politics from the Graduate School of Arts and Science and a JD from the Law School. They must complete requirements for both programs but may count some courses toward both programs, typically saving one full year of study. Students enroll each year either in the Department of Politics or in the Law School, and separate funding must be obtained for both the Department of Politics and the Law School years. Students must apply to and be accepted into each program separately.