Comparative Constitutional Law Academy Day 5

Editors Note: A group of W&L Law students are currently  in Germany for an intensive week-long exploration of German law and legal culture. The German Comparative Law Academy, organized by Prof. Russ Miller, brings together American and German law students for a scholarly exchange on both countries’ legal systems, with an emphasis on Constitutional Law.

by Erin Seavoy

Bonjour!  This is our first post from Strasbourg, France!!  We began our morning in Karlsruhe, Germany.  We woke up, put on our finest in business attire and set out to the German Constitutional Court.  Two of the Court’s research assistants met us at the front of the court and took us into the temporary court room (the true court house is under construction).  There they explained a little bit about the workings of the court.  As Americans we were surprised to learn that in Germany the research assistants (aka clerks) of the Constitutional court are judges in their own right.  They take a few years off to come and work for a justice and then return to their positions on the bench.

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Then we experienced one of the highlights of the trip.  We met with Professor Dr. Susanne Baer, a Justice of the Federal Constitutional Court.  And this was no, stop by say hi and take a picture type of visit.  She sat down with us, she chatted with us, and she encouraged us to ask questions.  It was an amazing opportunity and experience.  She is an inspiring woman and I am sure we would all agree that we feel privileged that she took the time out of her schedule.  (Just in case she ever reads this blog: “Thank you once again!”)

After the court we went for more amazing German food and had lively conversation.  Pellitier wowed us with his ability to eat more than should be humanly possible and we debated the creation of our own country.  Some of the country discussion was serious (debating a constitution and separation of powers) some not so much (the decision that the drafting of the constitution should take place on the beach and involve mojitos).  Either way we had a great lunch which ended with a slightly more formal discussion of the European Court of Human Rights.

After lunch the students and Professor Miller headed back to the center of Karlsruhe.  We took a winding walk through a park and saw the sun for the first time in days.  We came out at a palace and Professor Miller showed us the official Constitutional Court building, which is currently under construction.  We then walked through the palace gardens and found people playing human chess (and yes we made Harry Potter references…).  We then headed into the city and a few of the students found a café with Professor Miller.  We spent a wonderful hour chatting, eating delicious chocolate and joking around.

Afterwards it was back to the train station and off to France!

We arrived in France and realized that instead of having half of the students speaking the language, as was the case in Germany, only one of the Brandt students speaks French.  However, Professor Hoffmann still did a wonderful job guiding us to our hotel and then off to our first French meal!  The food was amazing and the conversation fun.  It is surprising and unexpected how quickly the Brandt students and the W&L students have bonded.  We now all have shared experiences and friendships that we will hopefully continue after the trip!

After dinner it was back to the hotel to sleep and prepare for another exciting day in Europe!

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