Constitutional Law & Political Theory

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Course DatesLengthMeeting TimesStatusFormatInstructor(s)CRN
June 28, 2021 - August 11, 20216/28 - 8/116 WeeksOnlineOpenOnlineRyan Emenaker

Course Description

This course will examine the moral and democratic value of U.S. constitutional law through the lens of political theory. As such, students will evaluate for themselves what, if anything, makes laws legitimate, and if contemporary interpretations of the Constitution are morally defensible.

During the course, we will read contemporary and classic cases in U.S. constitutional law and canonical texts from political theory. We will explore the political dilemmas that emerge from the U.S. constitutional system and we will discuss the role of the judiciary and of the Supreme Court, which sits at the center of many of these political struggles. Most importantly, we will use the U.S. Supreme Court, and opinions of its justices, to help us think through different political controversies, and to help solve the following constitutional puzzles: How should we balance our commitment to free speech with our desire to limit hate speech? When, if ever, should we limit religious freedom? Is the “right to privacy” enumerated in Roe v. Wade justified? What role does the Court play in protecting rights and liberties? Ultimately, this course will serve as an introduction to two areas: American constitutional law and the study of political theory.

By the end of this course, students will achieve three goals: First, students will be able to read critically complex texts from constitutional law and political theory. Second, students will have a foundational understanding of key texts in political theory and American constitutional law. Third, students will be able to write clear analytical papers that make careful use of textual evidence and offer compelling arguments.

Prerequisites: None

Course Information

  • Course Code: CEPS0919

Program Information


Brown’s Pre-College Program in the liberal arts and sciences for students completing grades 9-12 by June 2021.

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