611.20 Readings: The Lost Years of the Fourteenth Amendment

This reading course considers the history of the Fourteenth Amendment, starting with the early stages of Reconstruction (1862-65) and ending with the Supreme Court’s decision in Brown v. Board of Education (1954), and the implications of that history for constitutional theory. The course is based on a book project arguing that the Fourteenth Amendment failed, for at least the first half of its life, to entrench the principle of equality for black Americans secured by the Civil War and Reconstruction. We will explore the reasons for this failure and for the eventual revival of the Amendment’s principles in Brown and the Civil Rights Movement. That exploration will focus both on the original meaning of the Amendment and the various modes of living constitutionalism – changes in public opinion and electoral outcomes, the activities of social movements, and common law constitutional evolution in the courts – that altered the Amendment’s meaning over time. The course will offer students both a window on a crucial but generally neglected period of constitutional history and the opportunity to participate in the development of a major scholarly project. Students will be expected to do 3 or 4 response papers over the course of the semester.

Spring 2020

Course Number Course Credits Evaluation Method Instructor
Course Credits
Reflective Writing
Class participation
Ernest A. Young
Sakai site: https://sakai.duke.edu/portal/site/e26bd4be-1529-47fa-b428-c6c2b2505730
Email list: LAW.611.20.Sp20@sakai.duke.edu
Degree Requirements
Course Requirements - JD
Course Areas of Practice
Course Areas of Practice