American Constitutional Development

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Medium:
Syllabus
Course Level:
200
Course Length:
15 weeks
Credits:
3
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Course Description 

In this course, we will examine the origins and the development of the American Constitution with a special emphasis on its interpretation by the Supreme Court.  We will look at the structure of the judicial branch, the Supreme Court, its powers, and restraints on its powers. We will consider how judges interpret the Constitution. For the most part, we will read Supreme Court cases pertaining to the structure and institutions of the Constitution and the amendments. Although we shall concentrate chiefly on the opinion of the court, relevant concurring and dissenting opinions will be given attention.

Course Objectives

Students will learn about jurisprudence and be able to identify key Supreme Court cases.

Students will learn how to trace the development of rights, powers, and similar persisting issues through Supreme Court rulings.

Students will learn how to evaluate critically and compare and contrast Supreme Court rulings.    

Required Texts

  • Curry, Riley, and Battistoni, Constitutional Government and the American Experience.
  • Curry, Riley, Battistoni, and Blakeman, The American Constitutional Experience.

All other required reading materials will be posted on blackboard.  Useful online resources are also posted on blackboard, under External links.

Required electronic device

Turning Technologies Response Card RF LCD (otherwise known as “clickers”)

Course Requirements

10% class participation

25% papers

15% exam I

20% mid-term

30% final exam

Late and Make-up Policy

Make up exams will be given without penalty for excused absences, which usually include:  illness with physician’s treatment, death of family member, official university business and activities, and religious observances.  Papers will be expected on time.  On time means the beginning of class on which the paper is due.  You really will have a much better day if you turn your paper in on time.  Late papers will be marked down a letter grade for every day that passes after the due date. 

Class Participation Policy

Much of your class participation will be based on using the clickers to response to questions during class. Class participation is also understood to include, but not be limited to:  good attendance, reading for class, taking notes, attentive posture, courteous manners, asking questions, and taking part in class discussion.

Papers

You may write five legal briefs of four cases of your choosing. A legal brief is short statement of a case.  In the brief, you state the name of the case, very briefly the facts of the case, the relevant constitutional provisions and laws, the main legal question(s), the opinion of the court (and also any other concurring and/or dissenting opinions), and an evaluation (which describes the significance of the case and your opinion of it).  The challenge is to be precise in content and concise in your phrasing.  The brief should, in most cases, be no longer than a page. Excessively long briefs will lose points.  You may turn in briefs as we cover the cases in class—of course you are free to write a brief of any case we have already covered in class.  The implicit message is that you may turn briefs in at almost any time—the latest date that I will accept briefs will be December 8th—a most generous final date in my opinion.  You would be wise to spread out the writing of them through the semester. 

Exams

Exams will have mixed types of test questions such as multiple choice, true/false, short answer, IDs, and essay.  The final exam will be comprehensive, but content will be more heavily taken from the latter half of the semester.

Justice and Film

One evening this semester—probably the week after fall break—I will show a film that pertains to law, justice, or the Constitution. 

Grading Scale

A is 90.

B+ is 87.

B is 80.

C+ is 77.

C is 70.

D is 60.

 

Decimal points will be rounded up.  For example, a grade of 86.5 will be rounded up to 87.  

Special Assistance

If you require special assistance, you must contact the Office of Access and Learning Accommodation (OALA). 

Academic Integrity and Honor Code

I expect that all students will follow the guidelines concerning academic integrity and the honor code as explained and expounded in your student handbook.  If you have any doubts, please follow this link:  http://www.baylor.edu/honorcode/index.php?id=56831.  All violations of the honor code will be reported.  Violations may be referred to the Honor Council or resolved between the student and myself.  At minimum, students will receive a zero for the assignment. 

Attendance Policy

Regular attendance will be necessary to success in this course.  In accordance with Baylor policy, students must be present for 75% of classes. 

Contacting the professor

You are welcome to e-mail me and it is the preferred method of contacting me. However, be sure to write professionally. This means using openings (Dear Ms. Amato), closings (Sincerely, Best, Regards, etc.), using complete sentences and honoring most grammatical rules.  Writing professionally is one sign of respect.  E-mails that fail to exhibit such signs of courtesy may be sent back to the student with instructions to re-write it. 

Schedule

Date

Topic

Assignment

23 August, Monday

Welcome and Introduction

No readings

25 August, Wednesday

What is a constitution?

Federalist #37

27 August, Friday

Where does our Constitution come from?

Declaration of Independence,

Articles of Confederation,

The Constitution, Federalist #10

30 August, Monday

Where does our Constitution come from?

Declaration of Independence,

Articles of Confederation,

The Constitution, Federalist #10

1 September, Wednesday

Nuts and Bolts of the Constitution and the workings of the Supreme Court

Recommended: CG pp. 56-68

3 September, Friday

No Class—my absence

No readings

6 September, Monday

 

 

Labor Day!

No readings

8 September, Wednesday

What is judicial power and what is judicial review?

Federalist #78, Brutus 1, Marbury v. Madison, Eakin v. Raub, Andrew Jackson’s Bank Veto (1832)

 

Recommended:  CG pp. 101-105.

10 September, Friday

What is judicial power and what is judicial review?

Federalist #78, Brutus 1, Marbury v. Madison, Eakin v. Raub, Andrew Jackson’s Bank Veto (1832)

 

Recommended: CG pp. 101-105.

13 September, Monday

Federalism

McCulloch v. Maryland, and South Dakota v. Dole and O’Connor’s dissent posted on blackboard

 

Recommended: CG pp. 184-194

15 September, Wednesday

Federalism

McCulloch v. Maryland, and South Dakota v. Dole and O’Connor’s dissent posted on blackboard.

 

Recommended:  CG pp. 184-194

17 September, Friday

Separation of Powers

INS v. Chadha, US v. Curtiss-Wright, Youngstown Sheet & Tube Co. v. Sawyer

 

Recommended:  CG pp. 119-121

20 September, Monday

Separation of Powers

INS v. Chadha, US v. Curtiss-Wright, Youngstown Sheet & Tube Co. v. Sawyer

 

Recommended:  CG pp. 119-121

22 September, Wednesday

Separation of Powers

INS v. Chadha, US v. Curtiss-Wright, Youngstown Sheet & Tube Co. v. Sawyer

 

Recommended:  CG pp. 119-121

24 September, Friday

Executive Power

The Prize Cases, Korematsu . U.S., Boumediene v. Bush

27 September, Monday

Executive Power

The Prize Cases, Korematsu . U.S., Boumediene v. Bush

29 September, Wednesday

Commerce Clause

Gibbons v. Ogden, Heart of Atlanta Motel v. U.S., US v. Lopez

1 October, Friday

Commerce Clause

Gibbons v. Ogden, Heart of Atlanta Motel v. U.S., US v. Lopez

4 October, Monday

Racial Equality:  Pre-Civil War

 

The Antelope, Scott v. Sandford

6 October, Wednesday

Racial Equality:  Post-Civil War

Plessy v. Ferguson,Brown v. Board of Education I and II.

 

Recommended:  CG pp. 232-235, 240-249

8 October, Friday

Equal Protection

Regents of the University of California v. Bakke, Grutter v. Bollinger, U.S. v. Virginia

 

Recommended:  CG 260-264, 266-270

11 October, Monday

Equal Protection

Regents of the University of California v. Bakke, Grutter v. Bollinger, U.S. v. Virginia

 

Recommended:  CG 260-264, 266-270

13 October, Wednesday

Equal Protection

Regents of the University of California v. Bakke, Grutter v. Bollinger, U.S. v. Virginia

 

Recommended:  CG 260-264, 266-270

15 October, Friday

Fall Break

No readings

18 October, Monday

The Bill of Rights and the Fourteenth Amendment

Barron v. Baltimore, Gideon v. Wainwright

 

Recommended:  CG pp. 290-294.

20 October, Wednesday

The Bill of Rights and the Fourteenth Amendment

Barron v. Baltimore, Gideon v. Wainwright

 

Recommended:  CG pp. 290-294.

22 October, Friday

Mid-term

No readings

25 October, Monday

The Right to Privacy and Due Process

Griswold v. Connecticut, Roe v. Wade, Planned Parenthood v. Casey, Gonzales v. Carhart, Lawrence v. Texas, Washington v. Glucksberg

 

Recommended:  CG pp. 308-318

27 October, Wednesday

The Right to Privacy and Due Process

Griswold v. Connecticut, Roe v. Wade, Planned Parenthood v. Casey, Gonzales v. Carhart, Lawrence v. Texas, Washington v. Glucksberg

 

Recommended:  CG pp. 308-318

29 October, Friday

The Right to Privacy and Due Process

Griswold v. Connecticut, Roe v. Wade, Planned Parenthood v. Casey, Gonzales v. Carhart, Lawrence v. Texas, Washington v. Glucksberg

 

Recommended:  CG pp. 308-318

1 November, Monday

The Right to Privacy and Due Process

Griswold v. Connecticut, Roe v. Wade, Planned Parenthood v. Casey, Gonzales v. Carhart, Lawrence v. Texas, Washington v. Glucksberg

 

Recommended:  CG pp. 308-318

3 November, Wednesday

First Amendment: Free Speech and Free Press

Schenck v. US, Near v. Minnesota, Tinker v. Des Moines, Texas v. Johnson and Stevens’ dissent (posted on blackboard),  Christian Legal Society v. Martinez

5 November, Friday

First Amendment: Free Speech and Free Press

Schenck v. US, Near v. Minnesota, Tinker v. Des Moines, Texas v. Johnson and Stevens’ dissent (posted on blackboard),  Christian Legal Society v. Martinez

8 November, Monday

 First Amendment: Free Speech and Free Press

 

 

Schenck v. US, Near v. Minnesota, Tinker v. Des Moines, Texas v. Johnson and Stevens’ dissent (posted on blackboard),  Christian Legal Society v. Martinez

10 November, Wednesday

First Amendment: Free Speech and Free Press

McConnell v. Federal Election Commission, Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission

 

Recommended:  CG pp. 401-406

12 November, Friday

First Amendment:  Establishment Clause

Everson v. Board of Education, Engel v. Vital, Lemon v. Kurtzman, Lee v. Weisman, Zelman v. Simmons-Harris, Van Orden v. Perry

15 November, Monday

First Amendment:  Establishment Clause

 

Everson v. Board of Education, Engel v. Vital, Lemon v. Kurtzman, Lee v. Weisman, Zelman v. Simmons-Harris

17 November, Wednesday

First Amendment:  Free Exercise Clause

West Virginia Board of Education v. Barnette, Sherbert v. Verner, Wisconsin v. Yoder, Employment Division v. Smith, Boerne v. Flores

19 November, Friday

First Amendment:  Free Exercise Clause

West Virginia Board of Education v. Barnette, Sherbert v. Verner, Wisconsin v. Yoder, Employment Division v. Smith, Boerne v. Flores

22 November, Monday

First Amendment:  Free Exercise Clause

West Virginia Board of Education v. Barnette, Sherbert v. Verner, Wisconsin v. Yoder, Employment Division v. Smith, Boerne v. Flores

24 November, Wednesday

Thanksgiving Holiday—No Class!

 

26 November, Friday

Thanksgiving Holiday—No Class!

 

29 November, Monday

Second Amendment

D.C. v. Heller, McDonald v. Chicago

1 December, Wednesday

Fourth Amendment

Pottawatomie County v. Lindsay Earls, Safford v. Redding

 

Recommended:  CG pp.328-336

3 December, Friday

Fifth Amendment and Eight Amendment

Miranda v. Arizona, Atkins v. Virginia

 

Recommended:  CG pp. 344-349, 357-364

6 December, Monday

Fifth Amendment:  Takings Clause

 

Last Day of Class!

Hawaii Housing Authority, Lucas v. South Carolina Coastal Commission, and Kelo v. City of New London