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Robert G. Moser, Chair BAT 2.116, Mailcode A1800, Austin, TX 78712 • 512-471-5121

Fall 2006

GOV 357M • 7- Constitutional Structure of Power

Unique Days Time Location Instructor
39770 TTh
2:00 PM-3:30 PM

Course Description

Course number may be repeated for credit when the topics vary. The focus of this course is on one of the most vital aspects of politics: interpreting and applying the nation's fundamental rules. While the emphasis is on the United States Supreme Court, the class will also look at how other constitutional polities address similar issues. We examine constitutional structures of power by exploring contests over authority from John Marshall and Thomas Jefferson to Bill Clinton and Kenneth Starr. Some of the topics to be considered include: the powers of the federal and state governments, the executive's emergency powers, and the Supreme Court's authority to nullify the acts of other branches. Under these general headings are to be found such issues as the power to regulate firearms, the power to establish an office of independent counsel, the power to overturn a judicial decision through congressional action, the power to deprive citizens of rights during wartime, the power to define the terms of impeachment, and the power to decide the outcome of a presidential election. Much of the reading is of Supreme Court opinions that highlight the politics of constitutional development.


Kommers, American Constitutional Law, 2004. McCloskey, American Supreme Court, 2000. O'Brien, Judges on Judging: Views from Bench, 2004.


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