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

Fall 2003

GOV 320N • American Constitutional Development II

Unique Days Time Location Instructor
35690 TTh
3:30 PM-5:00 PM
ESB 333

Course Description

The course will focus on the development of Civil Rights and Civil Liberties in America through reading of U. S. Supreme Court cases. Cases will be read and analyzed chronologically by Court, focusing primarily on the Warren, Burger, and Rehnquist Courts. This class is designed to help students develop a deeper understanding of the Supreme Court and approaches to constitutional interpretation and judicial decision making. It is designed for both government majors as well as students who intend to go to law school. It is also designed for students who want to expand and sharpen their verbal and analytical skills. We will also develop profiles on how justices on those Courts approached the various issues. These profiles will come from our analysis of the cases, scholarly commentary on the cases and justices and the justices' own off the bench writings. We will spend some time on both the social and political context in which the cases arose as well as the theoretical basis of various civil rights and liberties. Students are expected to keep current with the reading assignments and come to class prepared to discuss the cases and related materials. As part of their daily preparation, students are expected to actually write case summaries called "briefs" and bring them to class. Occasionally, they may be asked to turn in a brief on a particular case. There will be 3 one hour exams and a Mock Supreme Court oral argument in which students role play as lawyers and justices that have been on the Rehnquist Court. They will argue a case currently before or about to come before the U. S. Supreme Court for the 2003-2004 Term. A short paper will be part of the preparation for the Mock Supreme Court project.

Grading Policy

3 one hour exams: approximately 60% Supreme Court Oral Argument: approximately 28% Class Participation/Attendance: approximately 12%


Susan Leeson and James Foster, Constitutional Law: Cases in Context, Vol. II Civil Rights and Civil Liberties T.R. van Geel, Understanding Supreme Court Opinions


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