518 Constitutional Law II: Historical Cases and Contemporary Controversies

Federal constitutional law is deeply shaped by its history. Many of our hot-button issues emerged in the early Republic: the specific questions are often different but the basic disagreements and arguments are startlingly modern.  The modern “canon” of US Supreme Court cases through which constitutional law is taught is an abstraction from this history.  Even if this is mostly unavoidable, the result is that in important ways our understanding of constitutional history, and thus of contemporary constitutional law as well, is distorted.  In this course we will look at a series of contemporary issues  - such as freedom of speech and religion, unenumerated rights, and federalism, through the lens provided by cases and controversies in the first century of the Constitution’s existence that for the most part have dropped out of our field of vision.  Our goal is not simply to develop a deeper understanding of the constitutional past but just as importantly to acquire fresh perspectives on contemporary law.

Pre/co-requisites: 
Course Areas of Practice
Course Type
Seminar
Learning Outcomes
(a) Knowledge and understanding of substantive and procedural law
(b) Legal analysis and reasoning, legal research, problem-solving, and written and oral communication in the legal context
2017
Spring 2017
Course Number Course Credits Evaluation Method Instructor Meeting Day/Times Room

518.01 2
  • Final research paper (25+ pages in length)
H. Jefferson Powell Th 1:45-3:35 PM 3171

Federal constitutional law is deeply shaped by its history. Many of our hot-button issues emerged in the early Republic: the specific questions are often different but the basic disagreements and arguments are startlingly modern.  The modern “canon” of US Supreme Court cases through which constitutional law is taught is an abstraction from this history.  Even if this is mostly unavoidable, the result is that in important ways our understanding of constitutional history, and thus of contemporary constitutional law as well, is distorted.  In this course we will look at a series of contemporary issues  - such as freedom of speech and religion, unenumerated rights, and federalism, through the lens provided by cases and controversies in the first century of the Constitution’s existence that for the most part have dropped out of our field of vision.  Our goal is not simply to develop a deeper understanding of the constitutional past but just as importantly to acquire fresh perspectives on contemporary law.

Pre/Co-requisites
Enrollment Restrictions
Check pre-co-requ
2014
Spring 2014
Course Number Course Credits Evaluation Method Instructor Meeting Day/Times Room

518.01 2 Christopher H. Schroeder F 10:00-11:50 am F 10:00-11:50 am Room 4044
By most measures, the president of the United States is the single most visible and most powerful individual actor in American government. It can be surprising, as a consequence, to recall that the text of the Constitution says relatively little about the powers and responsibilities of the chief executive. This course will explore the constitutional role of the president by reading primary sources, including Supreme Court and Justice Department opinions, and secondary literature on the scope of executive authority, the power of Congress to limit and direct the exercise of presidential authority, and the difficult legal issues that arise in the conduct of foreign policy and the preservation of national security where judicial review and even judicial precedent are often limited or absent. A paper will be required.

Pre/Co-requisites
None
Enrollment Restrictions
None
2013
Spring 2013
Course Number Course Credits Evaluation Method Instructor Meeting Day/Times Room

518.01 2 H. Jefferson Powell, Christopher H. Schroeder M 7:30-9:20 pm Room 3171
By most measures, the president of the United States is the single most visible and most powerful individual actor in American government. It can be surprising, as a consequence, to recall that the text of the Constitution says relatively little about the powers and responsibilities of the chief executive. This course will explore the constitutional role of the president by reading primary sources, including Supreme Court and Justice Department opinions, and secondary literature on the scope of executive authority, the power of Congress to limit and direct the exercise of presidential authority, and the difficult legal issues that arise in the conduct of foreign policy and the preservation of national security where judicial review and even judicial precedent are often limited or absent. A paper will be required.

Pre/Co-requisites
None
Enrollment Restrictions
None

*Please note that this information is for planning purposes only, and should not be relied upon for the schedule for a given semester. Faculty leaves and sabbaticals, as well as other curriculum considerations, will sometimes affect when a course may be offered.