Mirror of Justice

A blog dedicated to the development of Catholic legal theory.

Sunday, August 10, 2014

Fall 2014 Constitutional Theory Seminar

Perhaps not right down the Catholic Legal Theory fairway (but maybe somewhere in the rough), but I'm teaching a seminar in constitutional theory this fall here at St. John's for the first time, and I thought to ask the good readership and writership at MOJ about suggestions. I'm using the terrific reader by Gehardt, Griffin, Rowe, and Solum as my basic text, though I am supplementing it with a number of other materials. I've organized the course to be a little bit interpretation-heavy, and doutbless there are points of emphasis that are slightly particular to my interests (constitutional theory skepticism and the role of history and tradition may figure somewhat more prominently than they otherwise might). But please write to me with recommendations for changes, additions, deletions, etc. The tentative syllabus is after the break.


Class #1—Introduction; What is (Constitutional) Theory?

  • Syllabus
  • GGRS: Preface, 1-14.
  • Barron v. Baltimore, 32 U.S. 243 (1833).
  • Marbury v. Madison, 5 U.S. (1 Cranch) 137 (1803).

* Optional:

Bernard Williams, Theory and Prejudice, in Williams, Ethics and the Limits of Philosophy 93-119 (1985).


Class #2—Constitutionalism and Judicial Review

  • GGRS: 15-49; 87-96; 133-162.
  • Christopher Wolfe, The Rise of Modern Judicial Review 97-101 (1994).
  • Federalist 78 (Hamilton).

* Optional:

Federalist 81 (Hamilton).

Alexander Bickel, The Most Dangerous Branch (1962).

John Hart Ely, Democracy and Distrust: A Theory of Judicial Review (1980).

Philip Hamburger, Law and Judicial Duty (2008).

Barry Friedman, Dialogue and Judicial Review, 91 Mich. L. Rev. 577 (1993).

Christopher Wolfe, The Rise of Modern Judicial Review (remainder of the book) (1994)


Class #3—Originalism (first session)

* Optional

Jonathan O’Neill, Originalism in American Law and Politics: A Constitutional History (2007).

John O. McGinnis & Michael B. Rappaport, Originalism and the Good Constitution (2013).

Randy E. Barnett, Restoring the Lost Constitution: The Presumption of Liberty (2006).


Class #4—Originalism (second session)

  • GGRS: 235-288.
  • Larry Alexander, Telepathic Law, 27 Const. Comment. 139 (2007).
  • Steven D. Smith, That Old-Time Originalism, in The Challenge of Originalism: Theories of Constitutional Interpretation (2011).

* Optional:

Paul Brest, The Misconceived Quest for the Original Understanding, 60 B.U. L. Rev. 204 (1980).

Keith Whittington, Constitutional Interpretation: Textual Meaning, Original Intent, and Judicial Review (1999).

Mitchell Berman, Originalism is Bunk, 84 N.Y.U. L. Rev. 1 (2009).

Jack Balkin, Living Originalism (2011).


Class #5—Living Constitutionalism (first session)

  • GGRS: 311-336.
  • Calder v. Bull, 3 U.S. 386 (1798) (opinions of Chase and Iredell, JJ.).
  • Lawrence v. Texas, 539 U.S. 558 (2003).
  • Steven D. Smith, The Constitution and the Pride of Reason (1998) (selection).

* Optional:

Bruce A. Ackerman, 1 We The People: Foundations (1991); 2 We The People: Transformations (1998).

H. Jefferson Powell, The Moral Tradition of American Constitutionalism (1993).

David Strauss, The Living Constitution (2010).

Ronald Dworkin, Freedom’s Law: The Moral Reading of the American Constitution (1994).


Class #6—Living Constitutionalism (second session, with special focus on Brown)

  • Brown v. Board of Education, 347 U.S. 483 (1954).
  • Michael W. McConnell, The Originalist Case for Brown v. Board, 19 Harv. J.L. Pub. Pol’y 457 (1996).
  • Michael J. Klarman, Brown, Originalism, and Constitutional Theory: A Response to Professor McConnell, 81 Va. L. Rev. 1881 (1995) (selection).
  • Bruce Ackerman, The Living Constitution, 120 Harv. L. Rev. 1737 (2007) (selection).

* Optional

Ethan J. Leib, The Perpetual Anxiety of Living Constitutionalism, 25 Const. Comment. 353 (2007).

Larry D. Kramer, The People Themselves: Popular Constitutionalism and Judicial Review (2004).


Class #7—History and Tradition in Constitutional Interpretation

  • Town of Greece v. Galloway, 572 U.S. ___ (2014).
  • Washington v. Glucksberg, 521 U.S. 702 (1997).
  • Martin Krygier, Law as Tradition, 5 Law & Phil. 237 (1986).
  • Michael W. McConnell, The Right to Die and the Jurisprudence of Tradition, 1997 Utah L. Rev. 665 (selection).

 * Optional:

NLRB v. Noel Canning Corp., 573 U.S. --- (2014).

Burnham v. Superior Court, 495 U.S. 604 (1990).

Michael W. McConnell, Tradition and Constitutionalism Before the Constitution, 1998 U. Ill. L.                 Rev. 173 (1998) (selection).

David Luban, Legal Modernism: Law, Meaning, and Violence (1994), Chapter 2 esp.

James R. Stoner, Common Law Liberty: Rethinking American Constitutionalism (2003).

Kim Forde-Mazrui, Tradition as Justification: The Case of Opposite-Sex Marriage, 28 U. Chi. L. Rev. 271 (2011).

Marc O. DeGirolami, The Tragedy of Religious Freedom, Chapters 6 and 7 esp. (2013).


Class #8—The Problem of Precedent

  • GGRS: 337-361.
  • Planned Parenthood v. Casey, 505 U.S. 833 (1992).
  • Gary Lawson, The Constitutional Case Against Precedent, 17 Harv. J.L. & Pub. Pol’y 17 (1994).
  • Anthony T. Kronman, Precedent and Tradition, 99 Yale L.J. 1029, 1043-1068 (1990).

* Optional:

McDonald v. City of Chicago, 561 U.S. 3025 (2010).

Caleb Nelson, Stare Decisis and Demonstrably Erroneous Precedents, 87 Va. L. Rev. 1 (2001).

Randy J. Kozel, Settled Versus Right: Constitutional Method and the Path of Precedent, 91 Texas L. Rev. 1843 (2013).

John McGinnis & Michael Rappaport, Originalism and Precedent, 34 Harv. J.L. & Pub. Pol'y 121 (2011).

Frederick Schauer, Precedent, 39 Stan. L. Rev. 571 (1987).  


Class #9—Constitutional Theory Skepticism

  • Richard A. Posner, Against Constitutional Theory, 73 N.Y.U. L. Rev. 1 (1997).
  • Richard H. Fallon, How to Choose a Constitutional Theory, 87 Cal. L. Rev. 537, 572-76, 579 (1999).
  • Daniel A. Farber & Suzanna Sherry, Desperately Seeking Certainty: The Misguided Quest for Constitutional Foundations 140-168 (2002).
  • Donald L. Drakeman, What’s the Point of Originalism?, 37 Harv. J.L. & Pub. Pol'y 1123 (2014).   

* Optional:

Mark Tushnet, Red, White, and Blue: A Critical Analysis of Constitutional Law (1988).

Michael C. Dorf, Create Your Own Constitutional Theory, 87 Cal. L. Rev. 593 (1999).

Marc O. DeGirolami & Kevin C. Walsh, Judge Posner, Judge Wilkinson, and Judicial Critique of Constitutional Theory, 90 Notre Dame L. Rev. --- (forthcoming 2015).


Class #10—Student Paper Presentations 


Class #11—Student Paper Presentations


Class #12—Student Paper Presentations


Class #13—Student Paper Presentations


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