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

Spring 2010

GOV 312L • Issues and Policies in American Government - Honors

Unique Days Time Location Instructor
38698 MW
3:30 PM-5:00 PM
UTC 3.104

Course Description

American political discourse is impoverished. Citizens and politicians have lost the ability to intelligently talk about the fundamental features of American political life. This honors course seeks to address this political and educational pathology by introducing UT's top students to difficult problems of constitutional interpretation. Students are invited to adopt the perspective of one actually responsible for designing or maintaining a polity. From this perspective we address such questions as: How democratic is the American constitution? Must a democratic constitution be capitalistic too? Does separation of powers work in America? How does the Constitution secure rights? Should democratic leaders go outside of the Constitution during national emergencies? Are actions permissible in emergency that would be prohibited in normal times? What is a constitution? Who are "the people" that authorize the Constitution? We will explore these questions through careful reading of The Federalist, Anti-Federalist writings, selections of Tocqueville's Democracy in America, major Supreme Court cases, and other documents.

Grading Policy

Three short papers and two in-class exams.


Texts (tentative list): Rossiter, ed. The Federalist Papers Storing, ed., The Anti-Federalist Tocqueville, Democracy in America (Kessler and Grant, eds., Hackett Pub) Horwitz ed. Moral Foundations of the American Republic a packet of articles and primary sources


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