Seminar in Constitutional Law

L799 is taught by Fuentes-Rohwer, D. Johnsen, D. Williams

This seminar examines the oldest question in constitutional law: how we in the United States divide power and authority between the states and the national government. We will examine the historical foundations and normative underpinnings of our federalism, and will explore how these understandings have evolved throughout American history. We will also examine how the U.S. Supreme Court has understood and analyzed our federalism through time. Specific topics include: what is the value of a federal system? What were the views of the framers of the US Constitution about our federalism, and how does their constitutional framework reflect those views? How has this vision of our federalism changed throughout American history, and why? Which institution should be responsible for safeguarding our federalism? Is there a relationship between federalism and individual rights? What impact does our federalism have on the status of minority groups? We will look with particular care at four moments in our constitutional history; the Founding; Reconstruction; the New Deal; and the modern federalism revival. Students will be expected to write a research paper on a federalism-related topic of his or her choice.