LAW 02 — The United States Constitution: Principles and Politics
Course Format: Live Online (About Formats)
Duration: 9 weeks
Date(s): Sep 22—Dec 1
Time: 7:00—8:50 pm (PT)
Drop Deadline: Sep 24
Grade Restriction: No letter grade
Instructor(s): William H. Simon
Live Online(About Formats)
7:00—8:50 pm (PT)
Sep 22—Dec 1
No letter grade
William H. Simon
Much political conflict in America is rooted in constitutional issues. Constitutional rights to abortion and guns have been central for decades. Problems posed by the threats of terrorism and pandemics have raised questions about the adequacy of our largely eighteenth-century Constitution to address our current realities. And controversies over executive discretion in recent presidential administrations (not only Trump’s) have been framed extensively in constitutional terms. This course will introduce the basic concepts and methods of constitutional doctrine and consider how they play out in current controversies. These concepts include the structure of government, notably federalism, the separation of powers, and the operation of the electoral process. Others concern individual rights in such areas as racial and gender equality, sexual and reproductive autonomy, healthcare, immigration, and national security. We will also consider debates over the manner in which the Constitution should be interpreted and elaborated. In particular, we will explore the positions of Originalists, who insist that the Constitution should be understood as it was by those who enacted it, and Evolutionists, who favor a “living Constitution” that adapts to take account of current understandings and circumstances.
This course covers much of the same material included in the course taught by William H. Simon in 2019 titled "The United States Constitution: An Introduction."