Constitutional Law and Politics: Syllabus (Spring 2023)

Constitutional Law and Politics: Syllabus (Spring 2023)

Course Code: HASS 485A: 3 Units

Location: Hill Hall 202

Schedule: 1/10/2023 – 5/12/2023: Mon. 6:00 PM to 8:45 PM.

Instructor:  Richard A. Levine                    Email:

Office Phone:  720.414.5191                     Office Location: Stratton Hall (SH 401)

Office Hours:  By Appt. (Mon. 5:00)         Instructor Website:

CSM Academic Calendar

Course Description and Learning Outcomes:

Welcome to Constitutional Law and Politics. This course explores the philosophical roots and history leading up to the adoption of the US Constitution, the development of the Constitution and subsequent laws with emphasis on individual liberties and the exercise of governmental powers.  We will explore various topics, including voting, economic and monetary policy, rights of the criminally accused, and expanding notions of liberty and equality for individuals.

Students are expected to come to class prepared, and to engage in discussion. The structure of the course encourages dialogue and discussion.  I encourage students to feel pride and show confidence in their work, and to be open to putting their ideas into the group for discussion and evaluation.  We develop a trusting environment that encourages students to engage.

At the completion of the course, you will be able to articulate:

    1. The philosophical and historical background of the US Constitution

    2. Describe the functional components of the US Constitution (including powers, rights, and federalism)

    3. Evaluate and understand basic case examples involving fundamental rights balanced against legitimate governmental powers.

Required Textbooks:

    • The Bill of Rights: A User’s Guide, Linda Monk, 2018

    • The U.S. Constitution: A Very Short Introduction, David J. Bodenhamer, 2018

Mines Resources and Inclusion:

Our class will utilize online learning resources through the Canvas learning management system.  In order to help build community in this online learning environment, you are encouraged to upload your profile picture to Canvas.  Photos should be similar to the photos taken for passports or state identification cards.

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 for more information.

Grade Composition:

    • Attendance and Participation (20%);

    • Term Paper (25%);

    • Art and Essay (15%);

    • Quizzes (20%);

    • Final Exam (20%).

Grade Scale:

    • 93+ = A

    • 90-92 = A-

    • 88-90 = B+

    • 83-87 = B

    • 80-82 = B-

    • 78-80 = C+

    • 73-77 = C

    • 70-72 = C-

    • 60-69 = D

    • <60 … Really? F

TERM PROJECT and TERM PAPER: Each Student must complete both a term paper and term project as described below.


Author an essay (8 pages plus bibliography/sources, 1.5 space, 1″ margin, 12pt font, fully justified, MLA style) in which you select one of the following cases: 1. San Antonio v Rodriquez; 2. Obergefell v. Hodges; 3. Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health; 4. 303 Creative v Elenis if decided by 3/15/2023. Your essay must include: (I) in the first 2 pages, a summary of the pertinent case facts and the constitutional issue (rights and powers) involved; (II) in 2-3 pages a summary of the basis of the Courts majority opinion; (III) 3-4 pages, your analysis of the legal issue, identifying and applying your “constitutionalist perspective.” In terms of your “constitutionalist perspective,” you should explain how you are construing the text (for example, strictly and literally, or applying “modern standards,” whether you are applying historic materials (e.g.  Federalist Papers), international standards, and/or social science data …), and how concepts such as federalism play into your point of view.

To earn full credit your paper must: satisfy all the criteria above, including content and format, and; have no spelling or grammatical errors.


Create an artistic expression (music, video, digital graphic representation or painting; no copied images) expressing your view of an aspect of what the Constitution represents (it can be a celebration, critique, expression, 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’s not a slide show, or ppt; you may not use stock images, unless you significantly modify them for artistic expression.  Your work will be evaluated for demonstration of (i) creativity; (ii) thought, insight and effort; (iii) originality; (iv) connection to the ideas relating to the Constitution.

Your art piece must be accompanied by a two-page essay: one page describing other art/artists you considered with respect to Constitutional art and what you learned/observed; one page describing how the art connects to the constitutional ideas you are expressing.

Weekly Assignments/Topics:  Constitutional Law and Politics:  HASS 485A

The on-line syllabus will adapt to the pace of the course and seek to include topical material.  Students should check the syllabus each week.

January 16, 2023: Campus closed – No Class. Assignment: Watch Link Below after Reading this Introduction

McCombs Management Professor James Fredrickson has been using Martin Luther King, Jr.’s “Letter from a Birmingham Jail” in his MBA Art of Leadership class for many years. “It is very powerful and illustrates a lot of important leadership issues,” Fredrickson said. “It’s a wonderful piece of writing, the language is vivid, and it is a great example of the role language can play in leadership.”

Several years ago, a friend suggested that instead of having the students read the MLK letter, perhaps a dramatic reading would be a great substitute. “It is one thing to read it, another to hear it spoken,” Fredrickson said. A call to Lucien Douglas, associate professor of acting & directing at the College of Fine Arts, led him to Corey Jones, then an acting student pursuing his Master’s of Fine Arts degree. Jones rehearsed and came into Fredrickson’s class and did a dramatic reading of the letter. The students loved it.

The next step seemed logical. Fredrickson then decided to stage the reading for film to use in his class in later years. Another call to Douglas and Fredrickson had a director in Ya’Ke Smith, who had recently graduated with his Master’s of Fine Arts degree from the film program, to go along with the actor Jones.

The following 54-minute movie is the result, with the old Georgetown, Texas, jail sitting in for Birmingham in 1963. It starts with the published statement by eight fellow clergymen that prompted King’s response. The film was funded by Fredrickson’s endowed professorship, the Tom E. Nelson, Jr. Regents Professorship, and the McCombs School’s Department of Management.

Video Link Here

See additional materials re Letter from Birmingham Jail (click here)

Class Week One (1/23/23):  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):

Class Week Two (1/30/23):  Reading: PP 1-18 and 22-30: The U.S. Constitution: A Very Short Introduction, D. Bodenhamer

In-Class materials (no need to pre-screen)

Class Week Three (2/6/23): Reading: PP 36-45: The U.S. Constitution: A Very Short Introduction, D. Bodenhamer

In Class Resources:

Class Week Four (2/13/23): Quiz 1 weeks 1-3; Lecture Summary – Bill of Rights and Federalism through 14th Amendment and Intro to Equality Before the Law. This is an Intro of materials running weeks 4-7.

Reading: TBD

In-class resources:

2/20/23: PRESIDENTS DAY – CAMPUS CLOSED. NO CLASS. HOMEWORK: (I) READ/LISTEN; (II) Screen/watch this The Loving Story film (available on Hulu w free trial, Amazon …).

Class Week Five (2/27/23): Reading The Bill of Rights, A User’s Guide: pp. 35-57

    1. Freedom of Speech;

    2. First Amendment (Creationism and Evolution through Scopes) Darrow (Scopes; Epperson; Leopold and Loeb);

    3. Freedom of Religion (Establishment and Exercise)

Class Week Six (3/6/23): Continued lecture on Establishment and Free Exercise religion clauses.

Class Week Seven (3/13/23): Reading The Bill of Rights, A User’s Guide: pp. 109-166

Rights of the Accused (4th, 5th, 6th Amendments).

        1. Fourth Amendment;

        2. Fifth Amendment;

        3. Right to Counsel (6th Amendment)


Spring Break Homework:

      • RBG movie – rent on Amazon or similar platform (use “pause” and turn in cue-card notes re: Supreme Court cases mentioned in the film by noting holdings – see Oyez).

Class Week Eight (3/27/22)Quiz 2 weeks 4-7 

    1. From Plessy to Loving (and beyond): Racial Separation is Unequal in Place and Rights

    2. Limits to Concepts of Equality in Public Education: Racial Equality but not Socioeconomic Equality:  San Antonio School Dist. v. Rodriquez; Video; Applying an equality standard

    3. Comparing Standards (Intermediate Scrutiny).

    Class Week Nine (4/3/23):

      • Privacy, Choice and Bodily Autonomy: From 14 to Griswold to Roe to Planned Parenthood/Casey to Dobbs.

    When Did You Become A Person


    Class Week Ten (4/10/23):

    Term Paper Due. Online via Canvas Turnitin. 6:00 PM. Any late submissions will be deducted a full grade point; Any submission beyond 11/18 is an F.

      • Patents and Copyrights: The Constitution Protects Ideas.

    Const Day 2016 Patents

      • Macro-economic components of the Constitution; the intersection of economic liberty and the general welfare powers.


    Class Week Eleven (4/17/23): Student Prep (before class):“One Woman, One Vote”. Submit 3 multiple choice questions, with answers, from One Woman, One Vote

    Class Week Twelve (4/24/23): CLASS BEGINS AT 5:30 pm.

    ART and ART ESSAY Term Project DUE – HARD and ELECTRONIC. No late submissions permitted.

    In class art presentations with Prof. led discussion and peer evaluation. Each student must prepare a 5-6 minute presentation, no more, no less. It must be rehearsed. All students must bring a tablet or laptop to this class to participate in spontaneous evaluation.

    Quiz 3 weeks 8-11 (4/25 online)

    Class Week Thirteen (5/1/23):

    • Current Supreme Court Case/Topic for Review, Analysis and Prediction: 303 Creative v. Elenis or alternate selection based on current developments at the Supreme Court during the semester

    • Final Exam Review

    FINAL EXAM: Online


    Coursework return policy: Student coursework will be reviewed weekly. Where possible, student work should be submitted electronically through Canvas course portal. Instructor will accept .doc, .docx, .pdf and .jpg only.

    Absence policy: Because we are building community, and evaluation is based in large part upon student participation and preparedness, attendance at every scheduled class. As this class meets just once a week, please expect that missing more than one class will require more intensive consideration and consultation with your instructor and the administration.

    The Student Absences webpage outlines CSM’s policy regarding student absences. It contains information and documents to obtain excused absences.

    Note: All absences that are not documented as excused absences are considered unexcused absences. Faculty members may deny a student the opportunity to make up some or all of the work missed due to unexcused absence(s). However, the faculty members do have the discretion to grant a student permission to make up any missed academic work for an unexcused absence. The faculty member may consider the student’s class performance, as well as their attendance, in the decision.

    In the case of an absence, the student is responsible for determining what work was missed and for putting forth a good faith effort to review the material on their own.


    Diversity and Inclusion:

    At Colorado School of Mines, we understand that a diverse and inclusive learning environment inspires creativity and innovation, which are essential to the engineering process. We also know that in order to address current and emerging national and global challenges, it is important to learn with and from people who have different backgrounds, thoughts, and experiences.

    Our students represent every state in the nation and more than 90 countries around the world, and we continue to make progress in the areas of diversity and inclusion by providing Diversity and Inclusion programs and services to support these efforts.

    Disability Support Services:

    The Colorado School of Mines is committed to ensuring the full participation of all students in its programs, including students with disabilities. If you anticipate or experience any barriers to learning in this course, please feel welcome to discuss your concerns with me. Students with disabilities may also wish to contact Disability Support Services (DSS) to discuss options to removing barriers in this course, including how to register and request official accommodations. Please visit their website at for contact and additional information.  If you have already been approved for accommodations through DSS, please meet with me at your earliest convenience so we can discuss your needs in this course.

    Accessibility within Canvas:

    Read the Accessibility Statement from Canvas to see how the learning management system at the Colorado School of Mines is committed to providing a system that is usable by everyone. The Canvas platform was built using the most modern HTML and CSS technologies, and is committed to W3C’s Web Accessibility Initiative and Section 508 guidelines.

    Writing Center — details coming soon from Alyce Horan, WC Director

    Discrimination, Harassment, and Title IX:

    All learning opportunities at Mines, including this course, require a safe environment for everyone to be productive and able to share and learn without fear of discrimination or harassment. Mines’ core values of respect, diversity, compassion, and collaboration will be honored in this course, and the standards in this class are the same as those expected in any professional work environment. (More information can be found here.) Discrimination or harassment of any type will not be tolerated. As a participant in this course, we expect you to respect your instructor and your classmates. As your instructor, it is my responsibility to foster a learning environment that supports diversity of thoughts, perspectives and experiences, and honors your identities.  To help accomplish this:

    • Course rosters are provided to the instructor with the student’s legal name. I will honor your request to address you by a preferred name or gender pronoun. Please advise me of this preference early in the semester so that I may make appropriate changes to my records.
    • If something is said or done in this course (by anyone, including myself) that made you or others feel uncomfortable, or if your performance in the course is being impacted by your experiences outside of the course, please report it to:

    In this course, we will cultivate a community that supports survivors, prevents interpersonal violence, and promotes a harassment free environment. Title IX and Colorado State law protects individuals from discrimination based on sex and gender in educational programs and activities. Mines takes this obligation seriously and is committed to providing a campus community free from gender and sex-based discrimination. Discrimination, including sexual harassment, sexual violence, dating violence, domestic violence, and stalking, is prohibited and will not be tolerated within the Mines campus community. If these issues have affected you or someone you know, you can access the appropriate resources here: You can also contact the Mines Title IX Coordinator, Camille Torres, at 303.384.2124 or for more information.

    It’s on us, all of the Mines community, to engineer a culture of respect.

    CARE @ Mines:

    If you feel overwhelmed, anxious, depressed, distressed, mentally or physically unhealthy, or concerned about your wellbeing overall, there are resources both on- and off-campus available to you. If you need assistance, please ask for help form a trusted faculty or staff member, fellow student, or any of the resources below. As a community of care, we can help one another get through difficult times. If you need help, reach out. If you are concerned for another student, offer assistance and/or ask for help on their behalf. Students seeking resources for themselves or others should visit

    Additional suggestions for referrals for support, depending on comfort level and needs include:

    • CARE at Mines: for various resources and options, or to submit an online “CARE report” about someone you’re concerned about, or email
    • CASA – for academic advising, tutoring, academic support, and academic workshops
    • Counseling Center – or students may call 303-273-3377 to make an appointment. There are also online resources for students on the website. Located in the Wellness Center 2nd Located at 1770 Elm St.
    • Health Center – or students may call 303-273-3381 for appointment. Located in Wellness Center 1st
    • Colorado Crisis Services – For crisis support 24 hrs/7 days, either by phone, text, or in person, Colorado Crisis Services is a great confidential resource, available to anyone. , 1-844-493-8255, or text “TALK” to 38255. Walk-in location addresses are posted on the website.
    • Food and/or Housing – Any student who faces challenges securing their food or housing and believes this may affect their performance in the course is urged to contact the Dean of Students for support. Furthermore, please notify your professor if you are comfortable in doing so. This will enable your professor to provide resources that may be available.

    All of these options are available for free for students. The Counseling Center, Health Center, and Colorado Crisis Services are confidential resources. The Counseling Center will also make referrals to off-campus counselors, if preferred.

    In an emergency, you should call 911, and they will dispatch a Mines or Golden PD officer to assist.

    Policy on Academic Integrity/Misconduct:

    The Colorado School of Mines affirms the principle that all individuals associated with the Mines academic community have a responsibility for establishing, maintaining and fostering an understanding and appreciation for academic integrity. In broad terms, this implies protecting the environment of mutual trust within which scholarly exchange occurs, supporting the ability of the faculty to fairly and effectively evaluate every student’s academic achievements, and giving credence to the university’s educational mission, its scholarly objectives and the substance of the degrees it awards. The protection of academic integrity requires there to be clear and consistent standards, as well as confrontation and sanctions when individuals violate those standards. The Colorado School of Mines desires an environment free of any and all forms of academic misconduct and expects students to act with integrity at all times.

    Academic misconduct is the intentional act of fraud, in which an individual seeks to claim credit for the work and efforts of another without authorization, or uses unauthorized materials or fabricated information in any academic exercise. Student Academic Misconduct arises when a student violates the principle of academic integrity. Such behavior erodes mutual trust, distorts the fair evaluation of academic achievements, violates the ethical code of behavior upon which education and scholarship rest, and undermines the credibility of the university. Because of the serious institutional and individual ramifications, student misconduct arising from violations of academic integrity is not tolerated at Mines. If a student is found to have engaged in such misconduct sanctions such as change of a grade, loss of institutional privileges, or academic suspension or dismissal may be imposed.

    The complete policy can be found in the Mines’ Policy Library.