GOV 357M • 6-Constitutional Politics, Law, and Citizenship
3:00 PM-4:30 PM
Course number may be repeated for credit when topics vary. The Constitution of the United States begins with the phrase "We, the People." It is a phrase that simutaneously invokes and creates a political community. That political community stands at the center of the institutional and social order that the Constitution sets out. On the one hand, the Constitution outlines the power and offices of the national government, and its specifies the relationship between this new national government and the state governments. On the other hand, the Constitution suggests a social order in which the government and "the People" have a set of rights and duties toward one another. This relationship between the government and the people is present throughout the Constitution, but is particularly apparent in the Preamble, the Bill of Rights, the Reconstruction Amendments, and the other suffrage amendments. This course will seek to uncover the nature of the American constitutional order by examining some of the historical debates over who belongs to "We, the People." We will focus on key moments in the development of American constitutional order, and the debates over citizenship and civic membership that have accompanied those moments, particularly for groups that were originally excluded from that order, such as African Americans, women, Native Americans, and so on. Materials for the class will include judicial opinions, and secondary works by political scientists and legal scholars who consider the ways that debates over citizenship illuminate our political values and who we are as a nation.
N. B. This course is not intended to prepare you for law school. We will be reading cases in this class with an eye toward what we can learn from them about the nature of citizenship and constitutional politics in the US. That is very different from how one might read a case for a law course, where the purpose is to identify the legal issues involved, the doctrinal grounds for the decision, and so forth.
2 in-class exams short reaction paper take-home final
Hamilton, Jay and Madison, The Federalist Papers Richard Kluger, Simple Justice Akil Amar, The Bill of Rights Course Packet