fullscreen background
Skip to main content

Winter Quarter

Winter Registration Now Open
Most Classes Begin Jan 13
shopping cart icon0


« Back to Liberal Arts & Sciences

LAW 106 — Constitutional Crises from the Founding to the Trump Administration

Quarter: Winter
Day(s): Tuesdays
Course Format: On-campus
Duration: 9 weeks
Date(s): Jan 14—Mar 10
Time: 7:00—8:50 pm
Drop Deadline: Jan 27
Unit: 1
Grade Restriction: No letter grade
Tuition: $445
Instructor(s): William H. Simon
Status: Open
7:00—8:50 pm
Jan 14—Mar 10
9 weeks
Drop By
Jan 27
1 Unit
Grade Restriction
No letter grade
William H. Simon
This course focuses on constitutional crises throughout our nation’s history. We will look at political confrontations among the branches and levels of the government at critical moments when compromise seemed impossible. Each of these episodes has raised anxieties about the capacity of the constitutional order to resolve severe political conflict. In each, the Constitution has survived, though sometimes at great social cost and with considerable revision. The course will consider how the Constitution’s provisions on the structure of government shape conflict and create vulnerabilities.

We will begin by studying the adoption of the Constitution and the Bill of Rights, the Civil War, and the ensuing struggle over Reconstruction. Next, we will consider the election of 1876 (with some attention to the election of 2000) and Franklin Roosevelt’s court-packing plan. We will also address presidents Eisenhower and Kennedy’s confrontation with resistance to desegregation; Watergate (with some attention to the Clinton impeachment); and President Obama’s executive unilateralism regarding immigration (DACA), military intervention (Libya), and climate change (the Paris Accords). The course will conclude with consideration of the relevance of these cases to current controversies under the Trump Administration.

William H. Simon, William W. and Gertrude H. Saunders Professor of Law, Emeritus, Stanford; Arthur Levitt Professor of Law, Emeritus, Columbia

William H. Simon has taught at Stanford since 1981 and at Columbia since 2001, and also at Harvard and UC Berkeley. He is the co-author of “Reforming Institutions: The Judicial Function in Bankruptcy and Public Law Litigation,” Indiana Law Review (2019), and “The Duty of Responsible Administration and the Problem of Police Accountability,” Yale Journal on Regulation (2016).

Textbooks for this course:

(Required) Michael Les Benedict, The Blessings of Liberty, Third Edition (ISBN 9781442259928)