Fall 2017 Course Schedule

Federal Courts (LAW-643-001)
Amanda Frost

Meets: 01:00 PM - 02:50 PM (MW) - Yuma - Room Y402

Enrolled: 28 / Limit: 65

Administrator Access


In-class exam, open book. Class participation, including answers to hypotheticals.


Federal Courts examines the role of the federal judiciary in the American political system. The course thus has a dual focus on the sharing of power between the federal courts and the other two branches of the federal government (separation of powers) and the allocation of power between the federal and state judicial systems (federalism). The course begins by examining the limits on the types of cases the federal courts are authorized by the Constitution to hear. We then discuss congressional control over federal jurisdiction and the ways in which the federal and state courts share judicial power. The last third of the course is devoted to studying two discrete areas of federal litigation that raise important questions about the scope of federal judicial power: First, the power of the federal courts to grant writs of habeas corpus; and second, the power of courts to hear cases and provide remedies for government violations of federal laws and constitutional rights. The course is theoretical and, at times, requires close study of legal history and an understanding of the intent of the Framers in allocating judicial power. Yet it is an intensely practical course that deals with nuts and bolts problems of a federal legal practice, such as how to file (or oppose) a habeas petition on behalf of a prisoner, or how to bring (or defend against) a First Amendment claim by a journalist alleging government censorship, or how to enable (or prevent) removal of a class action from state to federal court. Any lawyer who engages in federal litigation must be aware of the requirements for instituting and maintaining cases in federal court. Thus, the course would be valuable for students who plan to clerk and/or practice in the federal court system.

Textbooks and Other Materials

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First Class Readings

The syllabus with class assignments is posted on this site and on MyWCL.


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