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LAW 106 — Constitutional Crises from the Founding to the Present

Quarter: Winter
Day(s): Tuesdays
Course Format: Live Online (About Formats)
Duration: 10 weeks
Date(s): Jan 12—Mar 16
Time: 7:00—8:50 pm (PT)
Drop Deadline: Jan 14
Units: 2
Grade Restriction: No letter grade
Tuition: $485
Instructor(s): William H. Simon
Status: Registration opens Nov 30, 8:30 am (PT)
Please Note: Some of our refund deadlines have changed. See this course's drop deadline above and click here for the full policy.
Winter
Live Online(About Formats)
Tuesdays
7:00—8:50 pm (PT)
Date(s)
Jan 12—Mar 16
10 weeks
Drop By
Jan 14
2 Units
Fees
$485
Grade Restriction
No letter grade
Instructor(s):
William H. Simon
Registration opens Nov 30, 8:30 am (PT)
Please Note: Some of our refund deadlines have changed. See this course's drop deadline above and click here for the full policy.
This course focuses on political confrontations among the branches and levels of our 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 confrontations 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). Along the way we will consider constitutional controversies of the Trump administration, and we will conclude by considering what history suggests about the robustness of the constitutional order.

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.

Textbooks for this course:

(Required) Michael Les Benedict, The Blessings of Liberty: A Concise History of the Constitution of the United States, 3rd Ed. (ISBN 978-1442259928)
DOWNLOAD THE PRELIMINARY SYLLABUS » (subject to change)