Is the United States a unique country? There are many observers who note that America is a nation like no other in the entire world. Its history, its customs, its traditions, its diverse array of people, its constitutional principles, and politics -- these observers contend -- make the United States a country that is truly an exceptional one.
Yet, how valid is this claim? Some who study countries outside of the United States point out that, in fact, a number of nations appear to possess characteristics that closely resemble the American model. Other experts who also are familiar with countries aside from the United States, however, claim that while it is possible to draw a few similarities, on the whole, America remains a place that really cannot be compared to anywhere else.
Our goal for this course shall be to examine whether or not the United States really is an exceptional country. We shall approach this question by focusing on the constitutional principles and legal and political systems of certain countries in Europe, Latin America, Africa, and Asia. We will spend time studying the issue of constitutional rights in individual countries and how these rights may differ from country to country. We will also comparatively examine the intersection between constitutional theories and the legal institutions and legal actors within each country. Finally, we will return to look at the United States at the end of the course and evaluate the overall merits of the "American Exceptionalism" argument.
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