Studies the founding of American constitutional government. Considers the cultural, economic, legal, political, and social ramifications of the Constitution of the United States.
Examines the relationship between law and politics. Addresses the impact of politics on the judiciary and the strengths and weaknesses of law as a means of social order. Focuses on general issues of legal and political theory and the social and political functions of law.
Examines the political and constitutional foundations of American constitution-making, beginning with classical Greece and Roman and ending with the United States Bill Rights of 1791. Employs a comparative analysis of early Anglo-American constitutional thought, with special attention being given to the writings of prominent 17th century and 18th century constitutional theorists (e.g. Coke, Bacon, Burke, Penn, Dickinson, Mason, Adams, Madison, and Marshall).
Examines the political and constitutional arguments of the Framers of the Federal Constitutional Convention of 1787. Discusses the strengths and weaknesses of the design of the Constitution and the alternative language and plans presented at the Convention. Examines the ratification of the Constitution, focusing on the Anti-Federalists' critique and the Federalists' defense of that historic document. Employs a critical analysis of the political factors that affected the drafting and ratifying of the Constitution.
Examines the United States Constitution as the political blueprint of American national government. Explores the basic constitutional powers and structures of the federal government, and the prominent political and constitutional conflicts between its executive, legislative, and judicial branches. Address such key elements of constitutional design as limited and empowered government, enumerated and implied powers, separation of powers, checks and balances, federalism, and the Bill of Rights. Employs a critical analysis of modern constitutional politics.
Explores the origins of the fundamental liberties and rights of the U.S. Constitution. Examines the incorporation of the U.S. Bill of Rights to the states, the implementation of the Thirteenth, Fourteenth, and Fifteen Amendments, and the modern civil rights movements.
Examines, in a comparative fashion, the constitutions of the United States and other nations. Emphasized regions will vary depending on the expertise and interests of the instructor (e.g., in spring 2013, Ambassador Baktybek Abdrisaev addressed the constitutions of Post-Soviet Commonwealth Independent States). Employs a critical analysis of constitutional design and interpretation.
Explores, in a critical and historical framework, U.S. Constitutional History to Plessy (1896). Examines the origins and general principles of Constitutional thought (Coke, Montesquieu, Sidney, etc.), and the Colonial, Confederate, and Constitutional periods of early US history (including the Marshall Court's advancement of the doctrines of judicial review and national supremacy.) Concludes by examining the various Constitutional issues relating to slavery, secession, civil war, and laissez-faire governmental policies.
Explores, in a critical and historical framework, U.S. Constitutional History since Plessy (1896). Examines the development of U.S. Constitutional thought from the late Nineteenth Century to the present Rehnquist Court, with special attention being given to the progressive era, the New Deal, liberal constitutionalism, and the Court's modern interpretations of Civil Rights and Civil Liberties.