Wednesday, August 12, 2015

POSC 3209: Constitutional Law

The course introduces students to the U.S. Supreme Court and its case law concerning Articles I, II, & III of the Constitution.  Topics include judicial review, constitutional interpretation, and case selection, as well as major rulings on presidential power, the commerce clause, the taxing and spending clause, the Tenth Amendment, and voting rights.  No prior knowledge of the Supreme Court, or prior experience with case law, is required.

Fall 2015

Required Text

O’Brien, David M. 2014.
Constitutional Law and Politics, Volume 1: Struggles for Power and Governmental Accountability. Ninth Edition. New York, NY: W.W. Norton. (CL&P)


            9/4       Introduction

I.       The Judicial Power

A.    The Foundations of Judicial Power

      9/8       Judicial Review – CL&P: pp. 23-38 (essay), 45-55 (Marbury v. Madison)

                  9/11     Challenges to Judicial Review – CL&P: pp. 55-58 (Eakin v. Raub)

      9/15     Theories of Constitutional Interpretation – CL&P: pp. pp.68-102 (essay)

B.     Jurisdiction

      9/18     Standing – CL&P: pp. 107-129 (essay), 150-154 (Lujan v. Defenders of Wildlife), 130-136 (Flast v. Cohen), 144-149 (Hein v. Freedom from Religion), Blackboard (Arizona Christian School Tuition Organization v. Winn)

      9/22     Political Questions 1: Foundations – CL&P: pp. 129-133 (essay), 162-173 (Baker v. Carr), 891-897 (Reynolds v. Sims), 898-908 (Vieth v. Jubelirer)

            9/25     Political Questions 2: Foreign Policy – CL&P: pp. 173-178 (Goldwater v. Carter), 310-319 (Korematsu v. U.S)

            9/29     Judicial Federalism – CL&P: pp. pp. 835-837 (essay), 838-843 (Michigan v. Long), 843-846 (People v. P.J. Video), 230-234 (Kentucky v. Wasson)

            10/2     Exam 1

II.  The Legislative Power

A.    The Foundations of Legislative Power

             10/6    Foundations of Congressional Regulatory Power – CL&P: pp. 540-550 (essay), 551-562 (McCulloch v. Maryland)

B.     Enumerated Powers

            10/9     Taxing and Spending Powers – CL&P: pp. 661-665 (essay), 665-669 (Steward Machine Co. v. Davis), 669-672 (South Dakota v. Dole)

                        Details about the Moot Court Assignment Handed Out

            10/13   Commerce Clause I – CL&P: pp. 568-574; 583-588 (essay), 562-567 (Gibbons v. Ogden), 590-596 (NLRB v. Jones & Laughlin Steel Corp.), 601-604 (Wickard v. Filburn), 604-613 (Heart of Atlanta Motel v. US and Katzenbach v. McClung)

            10/16   Commerce Clause II – CL&P: pp. 613-625 (U.S. v. Lopez), 639-651 (U.S. v. Morrison), 652-660 (Gonzales v. Raich)                 

C.     Restrictions on Enumerated Powers

            10/20   Tenth Amendment 1 – CL&P: pp. pp. 743-756 (essay), 757-769 (Garcia v. San Antonio Metropolitan Transit Authority);

            10/23   Tenth Amendment 2 – CL&P: pp. 769-775 (New York v. United States), 775-786 (Printz v. United States and Mack v. United States)

            10/27   Health Care – CL&P: pp. 672-688 (National Federation of Independent Business v. Sebelius)

      10//30  Exam 2

D.    Oversight of Elections

      11/3     Voting Rights – CL&P: pp. 851-858 (essay), 860-865 (South Carolina v. Katzenbach), Blackboard (Shelby County v. Holder)

      11/6     Campaign Finance – CL&P: pp. 926-934 (essay), 946-956 (Buckley v. Valeo), 973-984 (Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission)

            11/10   Judicial Elections – CL&P: pp. 994-998 (Republican Party of Minnesota v. White); Blackboard (Williams-Yulee v. Florida Bar)

III.  The Executive Power

      11/13   Classical Approaches to Presidential Power – CL&P: pp. 244-252 (essay), 248-249 (Federalist 70), 236-238 (essay), 301-304 (Prize Cases), 253-255 (U.S. v. Curtiss-Wright Corporation)
      11/17   Contemporary Approaches to Presidential Power – CL&P: pp. 359-366 (essay), 366-381 (Youngstown Sheet & Tube Company v. Sawyer), 381-390 (New York Times v. U.S.)
      11/20   Habeas Corpus – CL&P: pp. 292-299 (essay),  304-310 (Ex parte Milligan), 319-323 (Rasul v. Bush), 325-342 (Boumediene v. Bush)
      11/24   Separation of Powers Controversies – CL&P: pp. 435-443 (essay); 453-463 (INS v. Chadha);  464-475 (Clinton v. City of New York); Blackboard (NLRB v. Canning)

      12/1     Moot Court #1

      12/4     Moot Court #2

      12/8     Summation



Exams.  There will be three, noncumulative exams, worth 20% each.  The exams include short-answer, essay, and multiple choice questions.  The third exam will be taken during the final exam block.

Moot Court.  The major research project for the class involves simulating oral arguments for a case that is currently pending before the Supreme Court.  You will write a research paper (8-10 pages) and participate in one of the moot courts as either an attorney or justice.  Moot courts are on 12/1 and 12/4.  Further details will be discussed in class on 10/9.

Participation.  Participation is a major component of this course (20%).  Students will not receive a satisfactory participation grade simply by attending class and sitting quietly: regular, thoughtful participation is required.  Effective participation requires reading the cases closely, reflecting on them critically, and being prepared to discuss them in class

Attendance/Tardiness.  Attendance is required at all class meetings unless an absence is excused in advance.  Tardiness will also result in a reduction of your participation grade.  If you have a regular conflict, please discuss the matter with me in advance.

Academic Integrity.  Under no circumstances will cheating or plagiarism be tolerated.  Plagiarism includes (but is not limited to) copying all or part of another student’s work, copying (or closely paraphrasing) all or part of another source without proper attribution (including internet sources), and incorrectly attributing sources.  To enforce the University’s standards for academic integrity, all students are required to submit written assignments to 

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