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Constitutional Law (PSCI 2000)

Total Credits: 3
Lecture Credits: 3

Description: This course is an overview of the origins of the U.S. Constitution and its continuing evolution through amendment and interpretation. Changing power relationships within government and changing definitions of the basic rights of citizens will be examined through the study of important case decisions, both historic and contemporary, with an eye to demonstrating the fluid nature of our Constitutional system. Emphasis will be placed on the practical impact of the Constitution and of Supreme Court decisions upon the enforcement of criminal laws.

Topical Outline:
1. Emergence of the U.S. Constitution: Basic Principles
2. The American Judicial Process, Judicial Review and the U.S. Supreme Court
3. Major Limitations on Judicial Powers (Congress and Legislative Authority; Presidential Powers) and Federal/State Distribution of Powers
4. Bill of Rights and Beyond and First Amendment Freedoms
5. Criminal Justice Rights and Protections and Right of Privacy Issues
6. Equal Protection and Anti-discrimination and Voting Rights and Election Issues

Learning Outcomes:
1. The nature and history of the U.S. Constitution.
2. Differing approaches to Constitutional interpretation, and the continuing dialogue between textual content, government practices, and social environment.
3. Case studies of important historical and contemporary decisions, and changing definitions of constitutional rights, powers and obligations for the differing branches of government, the states, and the individual citizen.
4. Fundamental Constitutional issues relating to the enforcement of the law.

Prerequisites:  Placement into READ 0200 or ESOL 0052 or completion of READ 0100 or ESOL 0042

  • Goal 5: History and the Social and Behavioral Sciences
  • Goal 9: Ethical and Civic Responsibility