Course Objectives

This class covers the historic judicial issues that have shaped the institutional, political and legal development of U.S. These issues include questions over the power of the Executive branch, the reach of the Legislative branch, the proper scope of the Supreme Court, federalism, state power, the interpretation of the Commerce Clause and other Constitutional debates.

The method of study will necessarily be historical so that understanding the context of these issues is critical. Constitutional Law is, by definition, a study of the adjudication of the Supreme Court (and lower courts) so that students must acquire the skill to read, interpret, analyze and brief Supreme Court cases. Students should expect to deal with a large number of Court cases over the semester, and brief many of those cases; and, in some cases, present them orally.

More specifically, this class follows a case study method so that students will spend considerable time briefing court decisions and occasionally presenting those briefs in class. One of the first objectives of the course, then, will be to learn how to brief a case. 

Each week students will be responsible for preparing several case briefs, turning those briefs in at the beginning of class, and possibly presenting the briefs orally during class time. Students should also bring their text to class EVERY CLASS.

Constitutional Law I Historic, Broad, National-Shaping Cases (Necessary and Proper Clause, Commerce Clause, Tax and Spend Clause, Federalism, Separation of Powers, Executive Power, Judicial Power, Legislative Power, 14th Amendment)
Constitutional Law II- Procedural Law (4th, 5th, 6th, 8th, 14th Amendments)
Constitutional Law III- 1st Amendment; also 2nd Amendment, 14th Amendment

Test 1: 25%
Test 2: 25%
Test 3: 25%
Comprehensive Final: 25%

Participation and Attendance
There are various ways you can participate in class and those will be discussed. The starting point is to show up for class because it's hard to participate if you aren't there. Since we only meet once a week, missing more than two classes will affect your grade adversely; miss more than three classes and you may be dropped from the course without warning. Also, there will be occasional class assignments, which, taken together will also factor into your participation grade. Generally, participation consists of offering comments, observations and questions during our class period. 

Also, Please Note: since we only meet twice a week, if you miss more than 4 classes, you cannot make an “A”, if you miss more than 6 classes, you cannot make a “B”, if you miss more than 8 classes, you cannot make a “C”. Exceptions to this rule are very rare. 

Those with regular attendance and participation will receive favorable consideration in case of borderline grades.



© Hank Edmondson 2012