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Examination of global philosophical issues related to law and politics, focusing on the relationship between law and morality, the nature and functions of law, traditional concepts of justice, and contemporary discussions of political legitimacy.
By faithfully completing all the reading assignments,
successfully writing the three essays, and actively participating in the
discussions, you should be able to do the following by the end of the
This course will emphasize discussion and writing. I
will regularly suggest questions pertaining to the material we will be
discussing in the following class. Students should come to class prepared
to address these questions. Always
bring your books to class.
There will be three three-page critical essays
(approximately 1000 words each), one presentation/performance, a midterm,
and a final exam. Each paper is worth 10% of your final grade; the oral
performance, 10%; participation, 20%; the midterm, 20%; and the final,
All essays must be typed and double-spaced, with
margins of 1.25 inches. Three pages means three full pages. Unexcused late
work will be penalized 10% per day. All essays are due at the beginning of
the class period. Due dates for the essays are listed in the course
schedule, below. Further details on the nature of these essays, as well as
of the midterm and final exams, will be given in class.
This is an upper-division course. As such, it will require a great deal of work on your part. The readings are often difficult, sometimes long, and occasionally both. All essays should be polished, well-written, and persuasive. You should plan to devote 8-10 hours per week to your work in this course, in addition to the scheduled class meetings.
All student work will be judged according to the following academic criteria:
SUPREME COURT OPINIONS
Every student will be assigned to a group of students
later in the semester. Those students will constitute a group of Supreme
Court Justices ruling on a particular issue. Each group should begin by
making a 7-10 minute presentation, and will then lead the class in
discussion of the issue for the rest of the period. This presentation is
10% of your grade. Every member of the group must be in class the day
of the presentation. Every
student will also write an opinion for the issue in question (this is the
third of the three required essays), which will eventually become either
the majority opinion (the decision of the court), a concurrence, or a
dissent. Further information on these
presentations will be given in class.
My office hours are listed above. Please feel free to
come by, call, etc., during those hours. If that doesn’t work, I would
be happy to schedule an appointment at another time. Communication by
email is especially welcome (moderation in this, as in all things...).
Finally, realize that it is not unusual for a course like this one to raise challenges to and doubts about some of our most cherished beliefs. It is important that each of us is sensitive to the views of those around us. At the same time, each of us should also be aware that controversial issues, arguments, and positions will be discussed in this course. If something bothers or offends you, let me know and I will do what I can.
WHAT IS LAW? THE MORAL OBLIGATION TO OBEY THE LAW
Aug 19 Th
Plato’s Euthyphro, Apology (read p. 3-53 in The
Trials of Socrates)
Plato’s Apology (conclusion),
Crito, Phaedo, and Xenophon’s
Defence (read p.
178-84 in The Trials of Socrates)
Aug 31 T
Is there a moral obligation to obey the law?
Sep 2 Th
Sep 7 T
Sep 9 Th
First Essay Due
Sep 14 T
Sep 16 Th
Sep 21 T
Roe v. Wade, Planned Parenthood of
Sep 23 Th Constitutional Privacy, cont.: Bowers v. Hardwick (p. 368-79), Roe and Casey selections
Lawrence & Garner v. Texas
Freedom of Expression:
cases (p. 395-412)
Oct 5 T Affirmative
Action (p. 433-456)
Oct 7 Th Inequality and Gender (p.
Second Essay Due
Oct 12 T Recent Developments
Oct 14 Th
NO CLASS—FALL BREAK
Oct 26 T
Bush v. Gore,
Oct 28 Th Bush v. Gore, p. 11-27 (dissenting opinions)
UNIT III RESPONSIBILITY AND PUNISHMENT
Nov 2 T
Responsibility and Punishment: Introduction (p. 602-11), "The Decline
of Cause" (p. 642-50)
UNIT IV COURT IN SESSION
Nov 30 T Supreme Court I: Ashcroft
v. Raich, Johnson v. Gomez, Florida v. Nixon
Dec 2 Th Supreme Court II: Van
Ogden v. Perry, McCreary County v. ACLU, Shepard v. U.S.
Dec 7 T Supreme Court III: Roper
v. Simmons, Devenpeck v. Alford, Illinois v. Caballes
13-17 FINAL EXAM (TBA)
schedule may be revised as necessary during the course of the semester.
“It is not the province of the court to decide upon the justice or injustice, the policy or impolicy, of these laws. The decision of that question belonged to the political or law-making power; to those who formed the sovereignty and framed the Constitution. The duty of the court is, to interpret the instrument they have framed, with the best lights we can obtain on the subject, and to administer it as we find it, according to its true intent and meaning when it was adopted.”
Here are some links that you may find useful, interesting, or even both. If you have any questions about specific pages that you see here, feel free to ask me. Enjoy.
General Supremes Stuff:
Roe v. Wade
Planned Parenthood v. Casey
I pledge allegiance...
Lawrence and Garner vs. Texas
SUPREME COURT GROUPS
Follow the link to your case. You will open a section of the Supreme Court Docket, sorted by the date your case is scheduled (October, November, December, or unscheduled). Scroll down until you find your case. Follow the links from there for more information, lower court decisions, etc. Remember that every member of your group will file one opinion, but will need to be familiar with and cast their vote in two cases.
Good luck. Please contact me with any questions or problems.
Roper v. Simmons: http://supreme.lp.findlaw.com/supreme_court/docket/2004/october.html
Shepard v. U.S., Devenpeck v. Alford, Illinois v. Caballes, Ashcroft v. Raich, Johnson v. Gomez, Florida v. Nixon: http://supreme.lp.findlaw.com/supreme_court/docket/2004/november.html
Van Ogden v. Perry and McCreary County v. ACLU are still pending