Rights,Liberties,Justice in US



Course Number


Course Description

The US Supreme Court often takes center stage in debates over voting rights, reproductive rights, and a myriad of other Constitutional controversies with very direct and real impacts on individuals and communities in the United States. Despite the popular focus on the Court - which undoubtedly plays a critical role in interpreting and deciding Constitutional questions - the judiciary is only one of several entities allocated power within the US Constitutional framework. This five-credit seminar critically explores US Constitutional Law in historical context. Beginning with the Federalist Papers and Magna Carta, we will examine the origins of the US legal system, as well as the theories that underlie that system. We will interrogate the politics and history surrounding the Constitution's drafting, which originally "explicitly protected the institution of slavery and gave women no rights." (Chemerinsky, 2019). We will also look to the text of the Constitution to understand the structure of the form of government, the division of powers, judicial review and interpretation, and the structure of the Constitution's protection of civil rights and civil liberties. The course will also examine Due Process, Equal Protection, and fundamental rights such as speech, religion, and privacy, with reference to current events and controversies. Required Texts: Constitutional Law: Principles and Policies (6th Edition), Erwin Chemerinsky Other assigned materials will be made available online. Credit/Evaluation: At a minimum, students must (1) regularly attend class; (2) demonstrate evidence of critical reading and engagement in class discussion; (3) produce a legal memo, as well as a revision and resubmission of the memo based on instructor feedback; (4) oral argument-style, short presentation to the class. No course credit will be given for students who miss three or more classes in the quarter.


Upper-division courses in social science or history highly recommended.




Winter 2022

Course Instructor(s)

Regina Jefferies