Constitution in Times of Crisis (LAW-707E-001)
Assessment: Paper,Class Participation
The 21st century opened with a series of crises testing whether our Constitution can still provide a workable system of government. At the same time, the country is sharply divided about some of the most fundamental public and private concerns. The courts and particularly the Supreme Court have been thrust into the middle of these controversies. This seminar will discuss the Court's recent and upcoming efforts to resolve some of these issues. We will pay special attention to cases before the Court this term, which will probably be one of the most momentous in recent history, given a new Justice, a heavy case backlog, and a very controversial president. Among the recently decided subjects we will cover are the scope of presidential power during an undeclared "war on terrorism", especially as those powers affect human rights; constitutional issues raised by the Affordable Care Act; affirmative action in education; and the Voting Rights Act of 1965. From the many important cases currently on the Court's docket, we will discuss a challenge to partisan gerrymandering, considered by many to be the Court's single most important case; a baker's religiously-based refusal to provide cakes for same-sex weddings, and the implications of allowing a religious family-owned business to refuse to provide contraceptives to its female employees in its health plan; a warrantless search of cell phone records in order to reveal the user's movements; and the free speech rights of nonunion employees in unionized contexts.
A paper on one of these or other constitutional law issue will be required.
Textbooks and Other Materials
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First Class Readings
Not available at this time.