POLSCI 338 - The Constitution Outside of the Courts
Section: 001
Term: WN 2018
Subject: Political Science (POLSCI)
Department: LSA Political Science
Waitlist Capacity:
May not be repeated for credit.
Primary Instructor:

The class is framed by a major research question in law and politics: What is the value of extra-judicial constitutional interpretation? What is, and should be, the role of non-legal actors in constructing constitutional meaning? What ethical, legal, and political controversies are generated by non-judicial constitutional politics? A first aim of the course is to expose students with scholarly interests in law to the major controversies in US history whose resolution happened through non-judicial means. For example, you should leave understanding important constitutional transformations such as post-war Reconstruction, the creation of the United Nations, and the 1964 Civil Rights Act. A second aim is to consider what these politics suggest about core themes in public law such as partisanship and constitutional interpretation, the meaning of citizenship, and the establishment of judicial review. Finally, we will use the seminar to engage theoretic research in legal studies about the incidence and value of constitutional interpretation outside the Court. The cases we will scrutinize include the Constitution’s ratification, the labor movement, judicial confirmations (the Robert Bork hearings), Reconstruction (and impeachment) after the Civil War, the 1964 Civil Rights Act, the Iran-Contra scandal, and the creation of the United Nations. We’ll come to our own assessments about the contested issues of constitutional meaning involved in each episode. We will also examine the reasoning of political actors, especially considering how the conditions of politics --pluralism, disagreement, political parties, the need to achieve broad consensus, and institutional constraints-- affects the practice of constitutional interpretation in the moment.

Course Requirements:

1. Daily quizzes or reading response paragraphs, 30%. 2. In-class participation, 20%. 3. One take-home essay exam, 20%. 4. In-class debate exercise, 30%.

Intended Audience:

Undergraduates with an interest in law, courts & politics.

Class Format:

Two 1.5-hour meetings

POLSCI 338 - The Constitution Outside of the Courts
Schedule Listing
001 (REC)
MW 1:00PM - 2:30PM
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