Political Science 439

POSC 439
Constitutional Law: Civil Liberties

Catalog Entry

POSC 439. Constitutional Law: Civil Liberties. (AG)
Three hours lecture (3).

Prerequisites: POSC 120

Theoretical bases, popular support, judicial interpretation and role of civil liberties in the United States.


Detailed Description of Content of Course

Major areas of constitutional law and judicial decisions to be covered in this course may include:

I. The Bill of Rights and the States

A. The Pre-Civil War Situation
B. The Meaning of "Due Process"

II. The Rise, Decline & Revival of Substantive Due Process

A. Economic Regulation
B. Judicial Intervention
C. Non-Economic Regulation
D. The Meaning of Liberty and Property

III. The Meaning of "Equal Protection"

A. Economic and Social Regulation
B. Suspect Classifications
C. Other Classifications
D. Fundamental Rights and Interests

IV. Post-Civil War Civil Rights Amendments

A. The Problem of State Action
B. Congressional Power to Interfere
C. Remedial and Substantive Power

V. Freedom of Expression

A. Political Speech
B. Regulation of Speech in the Public Forum

VI. Methods of Constitutional Adjudication

A. Advisory Opinions
B. "Standing" and Litigation
C. Anticipating Relief
D. Discretion to Decline


Detailed Description of Conduct of Course

A combined lecture/dialectical approach will be used, possibly with students responsible for initial presentation of particular judicial decisions to be analyzed.


Goals and Objectives of the Course

I. To fulfill a requirement in the field of American Government for Political Science majors.
II. To provide interested upper-division students from all majors with an introduction to legal reasoning and the principles of constitutional interpretation.
III. To begin to think through the constitutional structures and processes that aim at the preservation of liberty in the United States.
IV. To gain an understanding of the historical development of the concepts of civil liberties and judicial power.
V. To see how issues of political power become constitutional controversies over rights and liberties, and vice versa.


Assessment Measures

Graded assignments may include in-class tests, a final examination, essay or research papers, case briefs and oral presentations of course material.


Other Course Information



Review and Approval

April 1998 Reviewed M. J. Franck, Dept. Chair