Constitutional Law II

B668 is taught by D. Conkle, D. Johnsen, S. Williams

This course will focus on the First Amendment. We will spend the majority of the semester examining freedom of expression. We will begin with an overview of free speech theory and then turn to the issues that arise when government action interferes with various types of speech, including politically subversive speech, libel and defamation, pornography, hate speech, and commercial speech. We will also discuss the problems posed by regulation of symbolic acts of expression (like flag burning), limitations on the use of public areas such as parks and streets, and campaign finance reform. The remainder of the course will focus on the religion clauses of the First Amendment. We will examine cases concerning the meaning of religion and the protection afforded to religious practice, particularly when it violates general laws. We will also explore the interpretation of the establishment clause, in cases involving school prayer and school vouchers, the teaching of evolution, and public sponsorship of Christmas displays. The course will meet in person for class sessions, which will include both lecture and discussion. There will be one final examination which will be a take-home exam.