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

Spring 2004

GOV 384N • Gender and the U.S. Constitution

Unique Days Time Location Instructor
35305 M
3:00 PM-6:00 PM
JON 6.203

Course Description

Where do women fit in the US constitutional order? When did they become legal persons and citizens? Are all women regarded as valued members of the American political community? Does the Constitution recognize differences among women and between women and men in ways that encourage empowerment and participation for all or dependency and denial for some? The Constitution may be imagined as both an institutional design for government and as set of social relations that link the populace, or “the People,” to the polity. In this later regard, the Constitution creates a political community dedicated to certain norms and values that are embodied and enacted in the American constitutional order. Citizenship is central to the way that the Constitution organizes the American political community. Citizenship defines the rights, duties, and civic status of different social groups within the population. Further, both federalism and the common law have historical played into contests over who counts as a citizen under the Constitution – that is, who is included in “We, the People.” We will consider one such ongoing contest in detail – namely the role of gender in shaping the civic membership of men and women under the US Constitution. The course will offer a broad examination of how the Constitution is gendered and how it organizes gender relations in our society. Particular attention will be given to the evolving terms of gender and citizenship under the Constitution. The course will be organized both topically and historically. Topics will include equality, citizenship, sexuality, marriage, labor, race, reproduction and parenting. The readings will include Supreme Court cases, as well as secondary works from law, history, and political science. In addition to attending class and preparing discussion questions each week, students will be expected to write a short essay (5-7 pages) on an assigned topic, and a longer research paper (25-30 pages) on a topic of their own choosing. Students will also be required to make a course presentation concerning their research topic sometime in the last couple of weeks of the class. The professor will give students comments on a draft of the paper in the last part of the course before a final paper is due. Please note that students who enroll in this course need to have basic familiarity with US constitutional law prior to the start of the course.

Some of the cases we will consider include: Adkins v. Children’s Hospital; American Booksellers v. Hudnut; Ballard v. US; Breedlove v. Suttles; Bradwell v. Illinois; Buck v. Bell; Carey v. Population Services; Craig v. Boren; Dred Scott v. Sandford; Frontiero v Richardson; Geduldig v. Aiello; Goesaert v. Cleary; Griswold v. CT; JEB v. Alabama; Kahn v. Shevin; Loving v. Virginia; Mackenzie v. Hare; Meritor Savings v. Vinson; Minor v Happersett; Muller v. Oregon; Oncale v. Sundowner; Pl. Parenthood v Casey; Reed v Reed; Roe v Wade; UAW v Johnson Controls; US v Morrison; US v Virginia; Webster v Reproductive Services; West Coast Hotel v. Parrish; and Zablocki v Redhail.


Some of the authors whose work we will consider for the course include: Akil Amar; Nancy Cott; Martha Fineman; Katherine Franke; Hendrik Hartog; Linda Kerber; Catherine MacKinnon; Linda McClain; Eileen McDonagh; Martha Minow; Gretchen Ritter; Dorothy Roberts ;Gayle Rubin; Kim Lane Scheppelle; Vicki Schultz; Joan Scott; Reva Siegel; Rogers Smith; Amy Dru Stanley; Robin West; and Joan Williams.


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