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

Fall 2004

GOV 320K • American Constitutional Development I

Unique Days Time Location Instructor
37275 MWF
11:00 AM-12:00 PM
BUR 108

Course Description

GOV 320K is an upper-level course. American Constitutional Development I focuses on constitutionalism, judicial review, Supreme Court politics and procedures, the development of American federalism, separation of powers, exercise of those powers through the presidency and Congress, use and limitations on those powers in the economy, and representation. Key questions we will examine include: What institutions, processes, and forces develop the Constitution? What is the history of constitutional development in the United States? And what is the Constitution today? As such, there is a heavy emphasis on historical events. Our primary source of information will be U. S. Supreme Court cases and analyses of those cases, though we will also examine how constitutional development is affected by social and political movements and electoral and legislative dynamics. The format will be lectures, readings, discussion, short essays, and examinations. Student participation is encouraged and expected.

This class is both 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, through developing a deeper understanding of the Supreme Court and approaches to constitutional interpretation and judicial decision making.

Grading Policy

The minimum required for the course is achieving an understanding of the materials covered in the lectures. discussions, and readings. Grading is based on three components: exams (that include multiple choice questions and short answer/definition questions); a semester essay; and brief online essay contributions.


Required: David M. O'Brien. Constitutional Law and Politics, Volume One: Struggles for Power and Governmental Accountability, 5th edition. Suggested: T. R. van Geel, Understanding Supreme Court Opinions, 4th edition.


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