Texas Christian University
POSC 34083: Constitutional Law, Civil Rights & Civil Liberties
This upper-division course presents students with a framework for understanding the judicial construction of civil rights and civil liberties in the American polity. Topics covered include constitutional guarantees to freedom of speech; freedom of religion; freedoms of assembly and association; freedom of the press; the right to keep and bear arms; and the right to vote.
The course encourages students to think critically about the role of the Supreme Court in determining the contour and scope of individuals’ civil rights and civil liberties. In particular, students will consider carefully whether and how the individual rights of historically disadvantaged and vulnerable populations have been protected by U.S. Courts, as well as the countervailing notion that the extension and curtailment of rights and liberties by U.S. courts might have tended instead to favor socially and economically dominant subgroups.
POSC 34093: Judicial Politics
This upper-division course focuses on the mutual interdependence between judges and politics in American governance. Students will learn about the role of judges, courts, and law in the operation and administration of the American state, and in particular how judges may or may not be seen as coequal participants in the policy process alongside legislators and executive or administrative officials.
Topics covered include the constitutional and statutory origins of judicial power; the design of legal and judicial institutions; models of judicial decision-making and behavior; and the role of law and courts in the inculcation of social, political, and economic reform. Students confront headlong the inconsistencies between the prevailing normative ideals for the judiciary and the dominant empirical findings regarding judicial involvement in political and policy processes.
POSC 34013: Constitutional Law, Government Powers
This upper-division course elucidates for students the function of the Supreme Court in regulating the distribution and operation of powers enjoyed by institutions in the United States government. Topics to be covered include but are not limited to the capabilities of the three primary branches of government, the judiciary, the legislature, and the executive; the constitutionally-mandated division of powers across the three branches, including deliberately designed checks and balances against one another; the struggle over public authority between state and national governments in the federal system; and specific powers of the national legislature to regulate American economic and social life via the Commerce Clause.
The course involves a rigorous examination not only of Supreme Court jurisprudence as it exists in the law books, but also of how judicial decision-making and the role of courts in the American institutional landscape might be politically constructed. As such, this approach to constitutional law's role in regulating government authority takes an expansive look at the specific capacities for and limitations on exercises of discretion across American public institutions.
POSC 20403: Introduction to Public Law
This course introduces students to fundamental concepts in public law, including how law functions as a political resource and as a mechanism for social control. Over the course of the semester, students are exposed to competing philosophies of what law can and should do, as well as theories of how law advances or constrains the achievement of various political, economic, and social goals. Likewise, the course advances for students' consideration the notion of American courts as particularly robust policy-making institutions that accomplish policy change where other branches of government fall short, by situating the critical actors and component structures of the U.S. legal system within the study of American politics more broadly.
The course's approach to the study of public law is threefold: first, students examine both analytic and normative philosophies of law to develop a set of systematic criteria for evaluating specific features of law and legal institutions; second, students consider the organizational characteristics of the American legal system, including the importance of the common law tradition, the role of the Constitution in U.S. law and politics, the federal structure of American government, and the function of U.S. courts as venues for orderly dispute resolution; last, students survey a range of particular areas in American law - including criminal law, civil law, and administrative regulations - in order to assess specifically both (a) the suitability of U.S. courts as instruments of dispute resolution; and (b) U.S. courts' capacity for correcting political failures in other government institutions.
California State University, Long Beach
POSC 414: Jurisprudence
This upper-division course introduces students to the major philosophical approaches to the law, including analytic and normative jurisprudence. After reading major texts related to the nature of law outlining legal positivism, naturalism, and interpretivism, students then consider a number of competing theories that evaluate the moral content of law and public policy. These lessons lead students to consider questions including but not limited to: What is law, and what are laws?; what is the rule of law, and why is it important?; under what conditions should laws be obeyed?; and what is the nature of the moral relationship between lawmakers, public policy, and democratic politics?