This four credit course, not offered here before, will focus on constitutional decision-making and judicial structure and practices in the federal and state courts, including the U.S. Supreme Court. The assigned reading will include foundational opinions from the U.S. Supreme Court as well as decisions and issues from its most recent terms, as the Supreme Court’s composition has changed, and the process that has led to that change. The role of state courts also will be a touchpoint in light of their growing role in addressing issues of individual rights and liberties and election law. In two words, with respect to both public policy and individual rights, the principal question addressed over the semester is this: “Who decides?” Government or the individual, the state system or the federal? The course anticipates remote appearances from several appellate experts, including journalists and authors writing today who cover the court system. Successful completion of the course will require a combination of brief papers and at least two examinations, a mid term and final, with a complementary emphasis on class participation.
Instructor: Brady Williamson