You will read and evaluate significant decisions from the 2021-2022 U.S. Supreme Court term, thinking specifically about the impact of holdings upon women, racial and religious minority groups, as well as the meaning of civil rights and civil liberties. What did the Court decide, and what exactly is noteworthy about the recent review term, especially regarding gun rights, the doctrine of separation of church and state, public health, and abortion?
Course materials will be presented to you through various mediums, including case law, documentary films, photography, podcast audio recordings, and texts from diverse fields such as political science, legal studies, political philosophy, and sociology. Students will complete regular written assignments, interact with peers in discussions, and develop an introductory understanding of core questions in American constitutional law.
You will learn how to analyze and reflect upon the moral importance and political significance of the Court's recent decisions by thinking about the role of judicial review as it relates to democracy, various methods of constitutional interpretation, and the broad role of the judiciary in American politics. Throughout the course, we will also consider whether judges are insulated from politics: Should they be? Is the Supreme Court a political or legal institution? Importantly, we will conclude the course by asking what effect the 2021-22 term has had upon social justice.
Upon successful completion of this course, you will be able to:
• Understand theoretical and legal frameworks related to civil rights and civil liberties;
• Understand the role of the United States Supreme Court in American government and politics;
• Critically evaluate the legal rationale behind recent cases relating to abortion, religious liberty and freedom, gun rights, campaign finance reform, and health care;
• Explain the role of judges in American public life and the institution of the judiciary as it relates to American democracy;
• Identify key legal principles and concepts such as the rule of law, common law, constitutionalism, stare decisis, judicial review, as well as major philosophical approaches to the constitutional interpretation of the law.
Knowledge of United States history is helpful, but not required. Students should be intellectually curious about the U.S. Supreme Court and its role in American politics.
Online sections of Pre-College courses are offered in one of the following modalities: Asynchronous, Mostly asynchronous, or Blended. Please review full information regarding the experience here.