Summer 2003

Episodes in US Constitutional History

Rogers,Donald W.

06/23/2003 - 08/05/2003
Tuesday & Thursday 05:30 PM - 08:00 PM

Judd Hall 214

In his mid-nineteenth-century classic Democracy in America, Alexis de Tocqueville observed that "scarcely any political question arises in the United States that it is not resolved, sooner or later, into a judicial question." Here, we test out Tocqueville's hypothesis using leading constitutional cases to trace the way that U.S. Supreme Court decisions intertwined with major events in American history. First, we explore the constitutional origins of federal judicial power, especially as it evolved in Chief Justice John Marshall's jurisprudence. Then we turn to selected nineteenth-century controversies involving economic development, Indian removal, the notorious Dred Scott case, post-Civil War voting rights cases, and the dramatic end-of-the-century Pullman strike. We conclude by analyzing notable twentieth-century disputes over the infamous anti-labor Lochner decision, the "New Deal Revolution" in constitutional law, the famous Brown v. Board school desegregation case, the controversial Roe v. Wade abortion decision, and finally the Bush v. Gore ruling that affected the 2000 presidential election.

Readings, including a mix of historical monographs, court decisions, and legal literature, will be drawn from texts such as Charles F. Hobson, The Great Chief Justice (1996); Stanley I. Kutler, Privilege and Creative Destruction (1971); Jill Nogren, The Cherokee Cases: The Confrontation of Law and Politics (1996); Don Fehrenbacher, Slavery, Law, and Politics (1981); Robert Goldman, Reconstruction and Black Suffrage: Losing the Vote in Reese and Cruikshank (2001); David Ray Papke, The Pullman Case: The Clash of Labor and Capital in Industrial America (1999); Paul Kens, Lochner v. New York (1998); William Leuchtenburg, The Supreme Court Reborn (1995); James T. Patterson, Brown v. Board of Education (2001); N.E.H. Hull and Peter Charles Hoffer, Roe v. Wade: The Abortion Rights Controversy in American History (2001); and Howard Gillman, The Votes that Counted: How the Court Decided the 2000 Presidential Election (2002). Requirements include short papers, class presentations and participation, and an end-of-course essay review.


Consent of Instructor Required: No

Format: Seminar

Level: GLSP Credits: 3 Enrollment Limit: 18

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