This upper level writing course examines the history of constitutional development and change in the United States from the founding period to the present day. The course focuses on a series of major constitutional moments and crises including the drafting of the Constitution and Bill of Rights, sectional divisions over slavery and the coming of the Civil War, Reconstruction, the rise of the modern administrative state, and the struggle for equal rights. Students are urged to situate constitutional text and doctrine in dynamic political, social, economic, and cultural contexts, and thereby gain a broader and more critical understanding of tensions and forces that shape constitutional law. In the process, students interrogate pre-existing assumptions about constitutional legitimacy and immutability. In particular, students acquire skills necessary to apply or critique intelligently now dominant originalist methods of constitutional argumentation.
Constitutional Law I & II are suggested but not required to take this course.