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HASS 485: Constitutional Law and Politics
Syllabus (Spring 2021)
Instructor: Prof. Richard A. Levine
Location: Lecture Hall – Alderson Hall 330
Schedule: Spring 2021, 1/12/2021 – 5/14/2021: Tues Evenings, 6:00 PM to 8:45 PM.
Instructor Email: Rich@LawRL.com
Instructor Office Hours: Tuesday, 5:15 PM (w/scheduled appointment).
Attendance and Participation (20%);
Term Paper (25%);
Art and Essay (15%);
Final Exam (20%).
The Colorado School of Mines is committed to ensuring the full participation of all students in its programs, including students with disabilities. If you are registered with Disability Support Services (DSS) and I have received your letter of accommodations, please contact me at your earliest convenience so we can discuss your needs in this course. For questions or other inquiries regarding disabilities, I encourage you to visit disabilities.mines.edu for more information.
TERM PROJECT and TERM PAPER:
TERM PAPER: Author an essay (7 pages including one page for bibliography/sources, 1.5 space, 1″ margin, 12pt font, fully justified, Chicago style) in which you select one US Supreme Court case between 1950 to present, covered in class (including the textbook, website …) to evaluate in context of legal and historical ideas covered in class and within the case. Your essay must include: (1) a brief summary of the case facts; (2) the legal issue involved; (3) brief summary of the legal outcome of the case (summarize basis of the majority opinion; (4) your analysis of the legal issue applying your Constitutionalist perspective to it.
In terms of your Constitutionalist perspective, you should state:
a. your premises/principles (for example, which liberty interest(s) is at stake, which governmental power is being exercised, how the government’s power and the liberty at-stake should be balanced);
b. how you are construing the text (for example, strictly and literally, or applying “modern standards”; are you applying historic materials (e.g. Federalist Papers), international standards, and/or social science data …).
In addition to demonstrating mastery of the case you select and mastery of the content of the ideas in your essay, in order to earn full credit your paper must: satisfy all the criteria above, including content and format, and; have no spelling or grammatical errors.
TERM PROJECT: Prepare an artistic expression (music, video, or graphic representation (painting, ink, pencil)) expressing your view of an aspect of what the Constitution represents (it can be a celebration, a critique, an expression of historic occurrence, an abstraction, a recognition of pain, or success … but it is not simply a literal expression). Before starting, review other artists efforts. This is an art project – it is not a chart, powerpoint slide. You may not use stock images, unless you significantly modify them for artistic expression. Your work will be evaluated for (i) effort; (ii) originality; (iii) connection between Constitutional ideas and your expression. Lack of artistic effort or lack of artistic thought will not receive full credit.
Your art piece must be accompanied by a one-page essay describing how the art connects to the Constitutional ideas you are expressing.
Weekly Assignments/Topics: Constitutional Law and Politics: HASS 485
Class Week One (1/12/21): Introduction and Expectations. Lecture covering themes in pre-Colonial period that shape aspects of US Constitutionalism (history; jurisprudence; worldview).
Background materials. Read prior to lecture (Access via these links):
· US Constitution; (Orient yourself to the Articles in terms of subject, for example, Article 1, legislative powers)
Class Week Two (1/19/21): Yesterday was MLK Day!
Reading: The Words We Live By: PP 10-63; 121-124. E-book “Part I: Preamble; Article I; Article VI)
In-Class materials (no need to pre-screen)
o Racial aspects of National Anthem: National Anthem
o Media Resource: 1619 Project (NY Times Special Event)(begin 18:00 and 1:32:00). Commemorating 400 years (8/20/1419)
Class Week Three (1/26/21):
Reading: The Words We Live By: PP 64-107; 217-234. E-book “Article II and Article III; Amendment XIV.
In Class Resources:
Class Week Four (2/2/21): Quiz 1 weeks 1-3
Reading: The Words We Live By: pp 218-235. Online resources as follows:
3. Concepts of Liberty and Equal Protection;
In Class Resources:
Class Week Five (2/9/21): Special Topic: Impeachment (Separation of Powers – Article 1 Court): Joe Neguse House Impeachment Manager Opening Statement. Mitch McConnell post Impeachment statement re jurisdiction.
HOMEWORK: Watch RBG movie – rent on Amazon or similar platform (use “pause” and turn in notes re: Supreme Court cases noted)
Class Week Six (2/23/21): Rights of the Accused (4th, 5th, 6th Amendments).
Class Week Seven (3/2/21): Quiz 2 weeks 4-6
3. Justice Spotlight: Thurgood Marshall
Class Week Eight (3/9/21):
Topics: Voting and the Electoral College (balancing “Federalism”/”States’ Rights” with Civil Rights)
Right to Vote/Amendments (race-15th, sex-19th, poll-tax – 24th, and age – 26th)
Class Week Nine (3/16/21): Who decides matters, matters.
5. Justice Spotlight:
o Sonia Sotomayor
Class Week Ten (3/23/21): TERM PAPER DUE – HARD COPY AND ELECTRONIC
The National Economy framed by Constitutional Powers:
See The Color of Money (see 2020 Presentation)
Class Week Eleven (4/6/21): Quiz 3 weeks 7-10.
TERM PROJECT (ART AND ESSAY) DUE – HARD COPY AND ELECTRONIC.
Prof. led discussion and peer evaluation of Projects and Term Papers.
Class Week Twelve (4/13/21): Interpretation and Implications
1. Marriage Equality/Obergefell:
Class Week Thirteen (4/20/21):
Class Week Fourteen (4/27/21): Lecture Reserved:
Topic of Interest based on one or more of the following: (i) student input; (ii) a current case before the Supreme Court; (iii) a current event with constitutional implications.
Class Week Fifteen (5/4/21): Final Exam Review
FINAL EXAM: Online