Legal studies in the Department of Government 

The study of the relationship between law and politics has a rich history at Wesleyan. Notable scholars of law and politics, like Professors Woodrow Wilson, Clement Vose, and John Finn significantly advanced our field’s understanding of law as a political endeavor. The courses offered by our Department today not only build upon these foundational contributions but also serve to highlight the extensive range of scholarly interests of our current faculty.  

Our view of the role of the study of the law within the liberal arts education is one that is quite broad. Law is all around us – it is not a subject that can be easily cordoned off into a recommended slate of courses. Consequently, we encourage to students inclined toward its exploration to seek out courses that enable them to contextualize the role the law plays in political life across the subfields of the discipline. 

For students interested in enrolling in courses that will best prepare them for law school – we do not offer a pre-law concentration nor a recommended slate of courses. Instead, we encourage students to seek out courses that are rigorous, provide ample opportunity to practice one’s writing skills, and require critical engagement with textual materials. Your faculty advisor, your professors, and the Gordon Career Center are all useful resources for students who are considering applying to law school. 

Several professors in the department, including Professors Mark, Kus, Chakravarti, offer a number of courses on topics related to law and politics. Typically, the Department offers courses on judicial process, law and society, constitutional law, theories of justice, and judicial behavior.  

Useful resources  

  1. Court cases 

    Library of Congress Federal Courts Archive, a repository of information contained on federal-level courts’ websites, including transcripts and dockets 

    Cornell Law School Legal Information Institute Federal Opinions  

    Cornell Law School Legal Information Institute State-level Resources  

    Google Scholar is also a useful resource for the text of state supreme and intermediate appellate opinions after 1950.  

  2.  Supreme Court 

    SCOTUSBlog, Supreme Court commentary 

    Oyez, a useful resource for audio and case transcripts  

  3.  Legal news 

    The University of Chicago’s Library has a good list of news and current event resources related to legal topics  

  4. Other links of note 

    The Comparative Constitution Project’s site allows you to search and compare current and past versions of constitutions from around the world.  

    Yale’s Avalon Project maintains an annotated list of the Federalist Papers 

    The Judicial Research Initiative at the University of South Carolina – a repository of several sources of data on state and federal courts