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

Alan M Sager

Affiliated Faculty, Adjuncts and Lecturers

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GOV 357M • Law Of Politics

38880 • Fall 2014
Meets MW 300pm-430pm CLA 1.106
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Overview This course is designed for students with a variety of interests including students who are interested in some of the core issues of "retail" politics,  students who want to become political practitioners or are political junkies, government majors, students who want a little taste of what law school might be like, future government teachers, and students interested in some of the most difficult current theoretical and philosophical issues at the intersection of law and politics.

There are many ways to conceptualize the structure of this course. One way is to see it as being about the way institutional structures affect or cause results in our political system, e.g. how requiring a voter i.d. law may affect the outcome of elections. From another viewpoint, it is a course in constitutional and statutory interpretation with the subject matter being elections and electoral law. From still another point of view it is about what structures and processes are necessary or sufficient to create the American form of republican government. Of course, that also requires constantly defining what is "republican government."

As you go through the course, you might develop your own conceptual framework for organizing the course material. Keep in mind underlying this course will be some basic questions about liberty, equality, political processes, representation, civic virtue and many other issues of political theory. Often these concepts are deeply embedded in a judge or justice’s view of the more mundane case issues such as campaign finance, bribery,  or campaigning without being articulated.

This course is a discussion course, not a lecture course. Students are expected to prepare for each day's assignments to level of understanding such that  they can discuss the assigned material in class. There is no way to be highly successful in this course without such preparation.

 

Course Goals

There are six major goals for this course:

1. Introduce students to the way law and the constitution structure our electoral process

2. To identify the major themes and controversies relating to legal aspects of elections.

3. To better understand the development of the VRA, The Voting Rights Act, and related legislation

4. To have students develop a high level of skill in reading, briefing and understanding Supreme Court opinions, with special attention on what questions to ask when reading an opinion 

6. To raise participants' "cultural literacy" about the legal structure of our democracy and our Republican form of government.

 

Course Requirements

1. 3 hours exams approximately 65%(40% objective,60% essay)

2. 2 papers 3-4 pages approximately 20%

One paper will involve field observation during the early voting period for the 2014 elections

3. Class attendance and participation approximately 15% This course will be graded with "+" and "-" grades.

 

Required Texts

Main Text

Election Law: Cases and Materials by Daniel Lowenstein, Richard Hasen, and  Daniel Tokaji, 5th Edition Carolina Press 2012

 

Supplementary Texts Don't Vote It Just Encourages the Bastards   by P. J. O'Rourke Voting Rights and Wrongs  by Abigail Thernstrom 

GOV 357L • Judicial Process And Behavior

39215 • Spring 2014
Meets MW 300pm-430pm CLA 0.112
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Prerequisites: None

Course Description

This course focuses on understanding and explaining judicial behavior.  In order to do this, this course examines not only who judges are and what judges do, but also all aspects of the judicial process such as juries, attorneys, prosecutors, judicial selection, plea bargaining, court structures and the social and political settings in which courts operate.           Most of the assignments involve reading and analyzing judicial opinions in actual cases. These opinions not only reveal what the judge is thinking and how judges think and reason, but also explain how the judicial process works. Unlike a con law type of course, there are few cases to read in this course but the whole case is read.  Some assignments include viewing videos. We will also study some of the quantitative analyses of judicial behavior.           The cases are drawn from a variety both "public' and "private" law areas.  Case topics include international law, negligence and product liability law, contracts and remedies, criminal law and procedure, and  the interpretation of statutes  and constitutions . Some cases used in this course come from the most recent terms of the U.S. Supreme Court. Several of the cases we will cover have been the subject of major movies or discussed in movies and popular T.V. series.          This course is designed for a wide variety of student interests. It includes those who want a general understanding of the legal and judicial process. As well as those who are thinking about attending law school or are planning to attend law school. 

 

Grading Policy

3 hour exams worth 65%

2 short papers (2-4 pages) 20%

Class participation and preparation 15%

 

Books:

1. Selected Judicial Process and Behavior cases available from the University of Co-op

2. Courts, Judges and Politics: An Introduction to the Judicial Process, Walter Murphy, C. Herman Pritchett, Lee Epstein and Jack Knight, 6th Edition, 2006

3. Clarence Thomas, My Grandfather’s Son

4. Anthony D’Amato, An Introduction to Legal Thinking

GOV 320N • Amer Constitutional Devel II

39120 • Fall 2013
Meets MW 300pm-430pm CLA 1.106
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Course Description

This course focuses on the development of American Constitutional law in the areas of civil rights and civil liberties, focusing mainly on the Bill of Rights and the 13th, 14th and 15th Amendments.

Most of the assignments involve reading and analyzing judicial opinions in actual cases. These opinions not only reveal what the the Constitution says about the issues at hand, they also reveal of justices think and reasons as well as interact with the arguments of other who may disagree. .We will also pay close attention to the theories of interpretation embedded, often to the point of being purposely hidden, in all of these opinions

This course is designed for students who want to know more about role of the Constitution in structuring American political life, students who are planning to attend or think they want to attend law school, and future teachers of government and political science at any level of our educational system. It is also for students who want to expand their skills in reading and interpreting political texts. This course also will be useful as a base for other upper division Government courses in a variety of areas in addition to public law such as political theory, parties and elections, and political decision making.

 

Grading Policy

Exams:  3 Hour Exams worth a total of 65%(19%, 21%, 25%) Each exam will be consist  of  objective questions counting 40% and two essays counting  60%

Papers: Two short papers worth a total of 20%( 9%, 11%)

In  Class: Preparation,  Discussion, Participation and Attendance (15%)

Note: More than 3 absences without an approved excuse will affect this part of you grade.

 

Texts 

1. Lee Epstein and Thomas Walker Constitutional Law for a Changing American:Rights, Liberties and Justice 8th edition, Congressional Quarterly, 2012

2. T.R. Van Geel, Understanding Supreme Court Opinions, Longman, NewYork, 2007.(5th ed.) (3rd and 4th editions are o.k. to use as well) 3.  Andrew Kull, The Colorblind Constitution  Cambridge, Harvard University Press  1998 (available in paperback)

4.  David Bernstein, You Can’t Say That:the Growing Threat To Civil Liberties from Anti-Discrimination Laws,Cato Institute , 2003 (available in paperback and on Kindle)

 

GOV 320K • Amer Constitutional Devel I

38760 • Spring 2013
Meets MW 300pm-430pm MEZ B0.306
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Course Description

            This course is an overview of American Constitutional Development.  Through an analysis of U.S. Supreme Court decisions, we will study the development of the Constitution from the Marshall Court to the Rehnquist Court.

            To deepen our insights into the development of the Constitution, in addition to case materials,  the course will utilize video and audio materials which include oral argument in the U.S. Supreme Court, histories and reenactments of famous cases, and brief biographies of current  and past Supreme Court Justices. 

            There are four major goals for this course:

            1. To identify the major historical themes and controversies about our Constitution

            2. To better understand Constitutionalism and  our Constitution;  what  our Constitution is and  is not and how it  may have changed and developed over the past 200 years.

            3. To develop a high level of skill in  reading, briefing  and understanding Supreme Court opinions, with special attention on what questions to ask when reading an opinion   Part of this skill includes being able to see and understand the point of view of the person writing an opinion.

            4. To raise participants' "cultural literacy"  with regard to  our Constitution, and the U.S. Supreme Court.

 

To fulfill these goals, some of the questions we will attempt to answer include:

1. What is a Constitution supposed to do and who is supposed to interpret it?

2  What difference, if any does the context in which the  Constitution was created matter and how much should it matter?

3. What differences, if any, have existed among the justices as to what the Constitution means?

4. How do various justices go about interpreting the Constitution? What accounts for their differences? In other words, what are the various theories of constitutional interpretation?

5. What impact does the Court and Constitution have on American society.?

To answer these questions, we will discuss each of the assigned cases.  These cases provide the data for fashioning answers to these questions and for moving us toward the course goals.

 

Tenative Grading:                                                                         Approximate  Weight

            3 hour examinations                                        64%(19%, 21%, 24%)

            Class participation and preparation               15%(Attendance and preparation)

            Brief and short paper                                      21%(Brief  9%, paper 12%)

Class Participation- The grade on this part consists of the following:

            A. Demonstrating a reasonable level of daily preparation and understanding of the material covered

            B. Contributions made to class discussion and analysis.

            C. Overall attendance. More than 3 unexcused absences can affect your final average by two  or more points.

  

Required Textbooks and Reading:

Lee Epstein and Thomas G. Walker, Constitutional Law For A Changing America: Institutional Powers and Constraints, (6th edition)   

T.R. van Geel, Understanding Supreme Court Opinions, 6th Edition.

 

GOV 357M • Law Of Politics

38740 • Fall 2012
Meets MW 330pm-500pm WAG 201
(also listed as CTI 335 )
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Course Description

This course is designed for government majors, students who are interested in some of the core issues of "retail" politics, students who want to become political practitioners or are political “junkies,”  students who want a little taste of what law school might be like, future government teachers, and students who are interested in some of the difficult and current theoretical issues at the intersection of law and politics.

There are many ways to conceptualize the structure of this course. One way is to see it as being about the way institutional structures affect or cause results in our political system. For example, how requiring a voter i.d. law may affect the outcome of elections. From another viewpoint, it is a course in constitutional and statutory interpretation with the subject matter being elections and electoral law. From still another point of view it is about what structures and processes are necessary or sufficient to create the American form of republican government. Of course, that also requires constantly defining what is "republican government."

The course is a discussion course, not a lecture course. Students are expected to prepare for each day's assignments so they can discuss the assigned material in class. There is no way to be highly successful in this course without such preparation.

Grading Policy

    3 Hour Exams -approx 65%(19, 22, 24%)

    Papers - approx 17%

    Class participation, quizzes and attendance - approx 18%

Examinations

Each examination will be divided into two parts, 60% essay and 40% objective or short answer.  The objective will be 30 or so true/false, multiple choice or similar kinds of questions. Generally, there will be 2 essays  worth approximately 30 points each. 

Papers and Class Project

There will be a briefing assignment using the full text of one of the cases we cover in this course Everyone in the class will be required to participate in some aspect of the 2012  elections in Travis County, mainly as poll watchers at early voting.   If you do not want to register to vote in Travis County, you can go to your home county to complete the project. If you cannot register to vote in the U.S., we will have an alternate project. The second paper will be about your observations during the elections. A couple of times during the semester you  may be asked to turn in one of your daily class briefs.  These will be graded on a 4 point scale, well done, adequate, unacceptable, not done.  These points will count toward your class participation grade

Class Participation and Attendance

This part of your  grade consists of the following:

         A. Demonstrating a reasonable level of daily preparation and understanding of the material covered.

         B. Contributions made to class discussion and analysis.

         C. Overall attendance.  More than 3 unexcused absences will affect this part of your grade. More than      5 will lead to a loss of one grade.

Texts

Election Law: Cases and Materials: by Daniel Lowenstein and Richard HasenDemocracy in America,  by Alexis De TocquevilleDon’t Vote It Just Encourages The Bastards by P.J. O’Rourke

GOV 357L • Judicial Process And Behavior

38717 • Spring 2012
Meets MW 400pm-530pm WAG 214
show description

 

    There are no perquisites for this course other than what normally  is required for upper division Government courses.

    This course focuses on understanding and explaining  judicial behavior.  In order to do this, this course examines not only what judges do, but also all aspects of the judi-cial process such as juries, attorneys, prosecutors, judicial selection, plea bargaining, court structures and the social and political settings in which courts operate.

    Most of the assignments involve reading and analyzing judicial opinions in actual cases. These opinions not only reveal what the judge is thinking, but also explain how the judicial process works.  Some assignments include viewing videos. We will also look at some of the quantitative analyses of judicial behavior.  

    The cases are drawn from a variety both "public' and "private" law areas.  Case topics include negligence and product liability law, international law,  criminal law and procedure, the interpretation of federal statutes, and constitutional law  Some cases used in this course come from the most recent terms of the U.S. Supreme Court.

    Students are expected to keep current with the reading and video  assignments and to come to class prepared to discuss the cases and related materials assigned for that day.   As part of their daily preparation, students are expected to actually write summaries of cases called "briefs" and bring them to class.  

    This class is designed for both students who want a general understanding of the judicial and legal process and students who  are thinking about attending  law school.  

    Books for the course:  Pritchett, Murphy and Epstein, Court,  Judges and Poli-tics and a packet of cases printed by the Co-Op

 

GRADING CRITERIA   3 Hour Exams(one may be during final exam time)    approx. 63%

   2 papers 3-4 pages each                                         approx. 22%

   Class participation, quizzes and attendance              approx. 15%

Examinations

    Each examination will be divided into two parts, 60% essay and 40% objective or short answer.  The objective will be 30 or so true/false, multiple choice or similar kinds of questions. Generally, there will be 2 essays  worth approximately 30 points each.  

There may be some short quizzes on the Pritchett  book

Papers

    There will be 2 short papers.  The first will be  a brief on a recent Supreme Court case in the area of constitutional criminal procedure. The  second  will be an analysis of the voting patterns in the Supreme Court on the case you briefed.   Class lectures, dis-cussions and handouts will show you how to do this.   Each paper can be done in no more than 3-4 double spaced pages, approximately 750-1000 words

Class Participation and Attendance

    This part of your  grade consists of the following:

    A. Demonstrating a reasonable level of daily preparation and        understanding of the material covered.

    B. Contributions made to class discussion and analysis.

    C. Overall attendance.  More than 3 unexcused absences may          affect this part of your grade.

        In this course we'll be reading and discussing various ideas about why different people experience reality dif-ferently, and how the differing ways people experience reality and then act upon that experience can result in changes in reality--for them and for others--over time.  We'll then ask how we and others can use this knowledge to create changes we or they desire.  

    Much of our study will focus on basic aspects of everyday life, especially interpersonal and intergroup rela-tions.  Most of that study will be theoretical, combining aspects of psychology, philosophy, sociology, theolo-gy, anthropology, and other aspects of the human sciences.  From time to time, however, we'll also consider some aspects of political action.

The Readings

    The basic readings will be the following three paperbacks available in the Co-op (and likely in used bookstores):

Ronald Laing/The Politics of Experience/Ballantine

Peter Berger & Thomas Luckmann/The Social Construction of Reality/Anchor

Owen Barfield/Saving the Appearances/Wesleyan University Press

    We will also have supplementary readings from time to time throughout the semester, and the last quarter of the class will consist entirely of such readings.  I shall select these readings as the semester progresses to cri-tique, complement and expand upon the readings listed above.  Most will be available either via the electronic reserve program E-Res administered by the General Libraries (which will give you free access to them and al-low you to download them and print them so you can read them and bring them to class) or from a local copyshop.  I'll make specific reading assignments in class from session to session rather than in advance, be-cause specific assignments will depend in part on how the course progresses.

GOV 320N • Amer Constitutional Devel II

38655 • Fall 2011
Meets MW 330pm-500pm MEZ B0.306
show description

          Course Description

 

    The course  focuses on the development of Civil Rights and Civil Liberties in America through the reading and analysis  of U.S. Supreme Court cases.  Cases will be read and analyzed chronologically by Court. 

     This course  is for students who want  a broad  understanding of the U.S. Supreme Court’s civil rights/civil liberties jurisprudence as well as an understanding of the various approaches to explaining  Supreme Court decision making.   It is designed for  government majors, students who are thinking of attending law school, students who want to expand and sharpen their  written, verbal and analytical skills and students will teach high school or middle school,

 In addition to looking at the roles individual justices play on the Court, we will consider  both the social and political context in which the cases arose as well as the theoretical basis of various civil rights and liberties.

 The course goals are not only about learning the substantive materials but also about expanding  students’ skills in reading and analyzing texts as well as learning how to compare current cases and precedents.  Students are expected to keep current with the reading assignments and come to class prepared to discuss the cases. As part of daily preparation, students are expected to write short case summaries called “briefs” and bring them to class.   

 This course has an extensive website at   http://drsager.webhost.utexas.edu/amcondev2/home.htmWhile the website has not yet been updated for this Fall’s class,  it will give the reader a sense of how the class  operates.

 

Grading    Three Hour Exams            Approx. 63%    Two short papers                   Approx. 24%    Class Participation/Attendance    Approx. 13%

 

Text:

Constitutional Law for a Changing America: Rights, Liberties, and Justice, 7th EditionLee Epstein, Northwestern UniversityThomas G. Walker, Emory UniversitySBN: 978-1-60426-515-6

Understanding Supreme Court Opinions, CourseSmart eTextbook, 6/E T. R. Van Geel

ISBN-10: 0205651348ISBN-13:  9780205651344

Publisher:  LongmanCopyright:  2009Format:  Electronic Book; 192 ppPublished:  04/09/2008

GOV 320K • Amer Constitutional Devel I

38835 • Spring 2011
Meets MW 330pm-500pm MEZ B0.306
show description

This class is designed for students who want a more advanced understanding of the Supreme Court and approaches to constitutional interpretation and judicial decision making  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.      The course  will focus on the development of Civil Rights and Civil Liberties in America through the 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.       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.

GOV 357M • Judicial Process And Behavior

38560 • Fall 2010
Meets MW 330pm-500pm PAR 203
show description

Course Description:
    This course focuses on understanding and explaining  judicial behavior.  In order to do this, this course examines not only what judges do, but also all aspects of the judi-cial process such as juries, attorneys, prosecutors, judicial selection, plea bargaining, court structures and the social and political settings in which courts operate.
    Most of the assignments involve reading and analyzing judicial opinions in actual cases. These opinions not only reveal what the judge is thinking, but also explain how the judicial process works.  Some assignments include viewing videos. We will also look at some of the quantitative analyses of judicial behavior.  
    The cases are drawn from a variety both "public' and "private" law areas.  Case topics include negligence and product liability law, international law,  criminal law and procedure, the interpretation of federal statutes, and constitutional law  Some cases used in this course come from the most recent terms of the U.S. Supreme Court.
    Students are expected to keep current with the reading and video  assignments and to come to class prepared to discuss the cases and related materials assigned for that day.   As part of their daily preparation, students are expected to actually write summaries of cases called "briefs" and bring them to class.  
    This class is designed for both students who want a general understanding of the judicial and legal process and students who  are thinking about attending  law school.  


Grading Policy
   3 Hour Exams(one may be during final exam time)    approx. 53%
   2 papers 3-4 pages each                    approx. 32%
   Class participation, quizzes and attendance         approx. 15%

Examinations
    Each examination will be divided into two parts, 60% essay and 40% objective or short answer.  The objective will be 30 or so true/false, multiple choice or similar kinds of questions. Generally, there will be 2 essays  worth approximately 30 points each.  
There may be some short quizzes on the Tarr book

Papers
    There will be 2 short papers.  The first will be  a brief on a recent Supreme Court case in the area of constitutional criminal procedure. The  second  will be an analysis of the voting patterns in the Supreme Court on the case you briefed.   Class lectures, dis-cussions and handouts will show you how to do this.   Each paper can be done in no more than 3-4 double spaced pages, approximately 750-1000 words


Class Participation and Attendance
    This part of your  grade consists of the following:
    A. Demonstrating a reasonable level of daily preparation and
        understanding of the material covered.
    B. Contributions made to class discussion and analysis.
    C. Overall attendance.  More than 3 unexcused absences may
          affect this part of your grade.

 

Textbooks:  D’Amato, An Introduction to Law and  Legal Thinking,
Pritchett, Murphy and Epstein, Court,  Judges and Politics and a packet of cases printed by the Co-Op

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