Course Details

POSC 272: Constitutional Law II

This course will explore the United States Constitution and the legal doctrines that have emerged from it, using them as lenses through which to understand the history—and shape the future—of this country. Using prominent Supreme Court opinions as teaching tools and loci of debate (including cases on the Court’s recent and current docket), this course will explore the different kind of theoretical approaches with which to make Constitutional arguments and interpret the Constitution. It is one of two paired courses (the other being POSC 271) that complement each other. Both courses will address the structure and functioning of the United States government, and will explore in greater depth the historic Constitutional “trends” towards greater equality and more liberty (albeit slowly, haltingly, and with steps both forward and backward). This course will focus in particular on how gender equality is very much unfinished Constitutional work on our way towards a “more perfect union.” This topic will include an examination of the Court’s recent controversial decision in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization. In exploring matters of personal liberty, this course will focus in particular on First Amendment freedom of speech and other fundamental rights protected under the Fourteenth Amendment’s Due Process Clause. Finally, in examining governmental structures, this course will emphasize the separation of powers across the branches of the federal government. The course will require close reading of judicial opinions and other texts, and learning how to construct arguments using logic and precedent. POSC 271 is not a prerequisite for POSC 272. The two courses can be taken independently, although having taking POSC 271 will provide students with a broader and more nuanced foundation for exploring the themes covered of this course
6 credits; SI; Offered Winter 2024, Spring 2024; S. Poskanzer