727 Current Issues in Constitutional Interpretation

This seminar will examine important constitutional issues that have arisen in recent Supreme Court cases and will use those cases as a vehicle for considering broader questions of constitutional interpretation and Supreme Court practice, such as theories of interpretation and the role of stare decisis. Among the issues that may be studied are the Second Amendment right to keep and bear arms, the Sixth Amendment rights to counsel and trial by jury, the Eighth Amendment right to be free of cruel and unusual punishment, and the right to petition for a writ of habeas corpus.

Enrollment for Current Issues in Constitutional Interpretation is limited to 15 students.  Only third-year students are eligible to apply for enrollment, as it is anticipated that students in their final year of law school will be best prepared to engage fully in the course.

This seminar is a one-credit fast-track course and will meet Wednesday, January 3 through Saturday, January 6 from 9:00 to 11:55.  Students selected for the course are expected to attend every class session.

Applicants for this course may also enroll in up to one credit of other Wintersession courses but, until the selections are made, please keep an eye toward avoiding courses that conflict in time with Current Issues.  We anticipate the selection process will be completed before the end of the Wintersession drop/add period so that students will have ample time to finalize their Wintersession schedule.  The Registrar’s Office will manually enroll the selected students in Current Issues in Constitutional Interpretation.

As with all classes offered during Wintersession, Current Issues in Constitutional Interpretation will count toward the Spring semester course load only if beneficial to the student.  Thus, if this one credit should be included so that a Spring 2018 course load qualifies as full-time, it will count toward the Spring.  If a student is planning to take the maximum credits in the Spring, and this credit would put the student over the limit, then the credit will not count toward the Spring.

To apply for enrollment, please provide the following:

  • A copy of your academic record (an unofficial transcript is acceptable)
  • A resume
  • A statement, one page or less, double-spaced, indicating
    • Why you are interested in taking Current Issues in Constitutional Interpretation
    • How this course will fit into your career or other goals related to the law
    • How your perspective may be a benefit to the course discussions
  • The names of two faculty members to serve as references

Students selected for the course should expect to do a substantial amount of reading once the course materials become available.

Submit applications to Dean Barnes (barnes@law.duke.edu) via email by Friday, October 6, 2017.  Please feel free to contact Dean Barnes with any questions regarding this application process.


Course Areas of Practice
Course Type
Learning Outcomes
Knowledge and understanding of substantive and procedural law

*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.