This course introduces some of the central issues in the law governing the democratic process in the United States. It will cover, first, the development and nature of the right to vote under the U.S. Constitution, including limits on the franchise; second, the relationship between majority rule and minority representation, as reflected in the 15th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution and the federal Voting Rights Act; third, thorny questions about equality and due process in the administration of elections; and fourth, the constitutional fault lines of campaign finance regulation.
This course is an introduction to American constitutional law. Topics include: the role of the judiciary and other institutions in interpreting and applying the Constitution of the United States; theories of constitutional interpretation; the practice and meaning of judicial review in a political democracy; structural and individual rights approaches to constitutional limitations on government authority; and the public-private distinction in constitutional law. The course will be divided into sections that focus on both the structure of American government and the individual rights and liberties protected by the Constitution. We will begin by studying the division of authority between the three branches of the federal government, and also explore the concept of federalism - the relationship between the federal government and the states. The course will introduce you to controversies surrounding the judicial power and methods of constitutional interpretation. Finally, we will learn about various constitutionally guaranteed rights. This will include an introduction to the structure of constitutional protections, equal protection, an examination of fundamental rights under the Due Process Clause, and an overview of First Amendment rights.
This course will focus on constitutional law questions related to the separation of powers between the federal government and the states, and between individual branches of the federal government itself. We will consider how the text of the Constitution helped to shape these “structural” aspects of American government and, perhaps more importantly, how jurisdictional disputes not explicitly addressed by the Constitution have been resolved. We will read a variety of primary texts (the Constitution, judicial opinions, federal and state statutes, Executive Orders, and OLC opinions) as well as important secondary texts (law review articles, opinion editorials) to guide our discussions. As will become clear rather quickly, many current disputes over the horizontal and vertical separation of powers have no clean resolution under the law, although strong norms have developed over time.
Constitutional Law (undergrad)
This course is designed to provide a broad introduction to American constitutional law and the checks and balances of American government. After a brief introduction to the nation’s founding principles and the role of the Supreme Court, students will be introduced to the following dimensions of constitutional law jurisprudence: speech, religion, privacy, equal protection, Commerce Clause, and presidential powers. We will discuss such questions as, What are the limits of free speech? Does the Equal Protection Clause imply a preclusion of affirmative action policies? What is the proper scope of federal versus state regulation under the Interstate Commerce Clause? Readings will include cases decided by the Supreme Court (including cases from recent terms), and also contemporary scholarship on judicial politics and decisionmaking. Class debates and fact pattern response papers will help students to sharpen their understanding of the complex jurisprudential debates and develop persuasive arguments about the law.
Courts play an important role in shaping dozens of national and local policy issues such as voting rights, redistricting, affirmative action, abortion, birth control, same sex marriage, transgender rights, gun rights, criminal law, economic justice, and more. Learning how courts interpret policy has become an important component of the policymaker's toolkit. The course content is divided into four broad units, all of which are essential for understanding the courts' role in the promotion and interpretation of national policy. These are (1) federal courts, their nature, and their limited powers, (2) the courts’ role in social movements and as "protectors"" of individual rights and liberties, (3) political questions and immunity, and (4) the complicated relationship between courts and administrative agencies.
This course is part of the core curriculum for the Master of Public Administration (MPA) and Master of Public Policy (MPP) degrees at UConn. The purpose of the course is to in- troduce you to the fundamentals of public policymaking in the United States and to provide instruction and practice in oral and written communication skills. We will make extensive use of case studies and examples. The case studies provide examples of how professionals have addressed specific policy issues—sometimes well, sometimes poorly. By reading the experiences of others who have grappled with difficult policy problems, you will be better prepared to grapple with them yourselves.
Democracies require elections where citizens have the opportunity to cast their ballots without fear of coercion and can be confident that their choices are recorded and counted properly. However, some U.S. elections fall short of that ideal. Media reports of voter fraud, voter intimidation, spoiled ballots, or stolen ballots are perhaps the most extreme signs that something has gone wrong in an election. Other problems also plague American elections, including those involving voting systems and ballot designs, inaccurate voter rolls, and polling places that fail to open on time. Some of these issues arise as a result of the unusual complexities of American elections that originate from the design of the political system. Others result from administrative decisions unrelated to partisan politics. Still others, such as which candidates are listed on the ballot and the ordering of their names, are often intended to advantage one or more candidates or parties. This course focuses on election administration in the United States. It covers the impact of federalism on electoral institutions and processes; the evolution of institutions, norms, and processes; rules governing the participation of candidates, political parties, and voters; factors that affect voter turnout; early in-person voting, permissive absentee voting, vote-by-mail ballots, and other convenience voting methods; innovations in voting technologies and ballots; claims of voter suppression, voter fraud, recounts, and the and other challenges to the conduct of elections; and the impact of election administration on campaign strategy. Finally, the course assesses prospects for election reform.
University of California, Berkeley
(Graduate Student Instructor)
This upper-division legal studies course applies microeconomic theory analysis to legal rules and procedures. Emphasis is given to the economic consequences of various sorts of liability rules, remedies for breach of contract and the allocation of property rights. We also discuss the jurisprudential significance of the economic analysis of these laws. Together, Law and Economics I and II provide a comprehensive introduction to the economic analysis of law.
This upper-division legal studies course applies microeconomic theory to public law and the state. Topics include constitutional law, administrative law, and environmental law. To illustrate, we study how legislators behave who try to maximize the votes that they receive. Similarly, we study how regulatory agencies behave who try to maximize their own budgets. We explore the efficiency of alternative forms of regulating industries to protect the environment.
This upper-division political science course examines how the American legal system deals with selected social problems, e.g., adjudicating criminal cases, controlling physical hazards that stem from industrial technology, compensating accident victims, and regulating the struggle for economic power and equality. Readings and lectures indicate how the American legal system's approach to these problems differs from that of other nations. Grades will reflect a midterm examination, a final examination, a research paper (20-25 pages, based on field research concerning an actual legal dispute), and participation in discussion in class and in weekly sections.