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LPS 100: LPS Perspectives in Constitutional Law

Spring 2016-Fall 2016:

LPS 100: The 13th and 14th Amendments
In the aftermath of the Civil War, the U.S. created the 13th and 14th amendments, outlawing slavery and forced labor, and guaranteeing equality before the law. In this course, we will focus on the ways these amendments were and have remained areas for struggle over power, race, and freedom in America. In doing so, we will examine questions about race and equality, the constitution as a living process, and the effects of law on American society.

Spring 2015:

LPS 100: The Religion Clauses (see description below)

Fall 2014:

LPS 100: The Religion Clauses: Establishment and Free Exercise in the U.S. and Abroad
The first amendment states that the government "shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof…" This course will explore how these clauses have been interpreted by the U.S. Supreme Court through the examination of the historical background and text of cases dealing with prayer in public schools, religious displays on government property, religious exemptions from laws prohibiting drug use or requiring military service, among other issues. This class will ask you to think about to what degree the Supreme Court prioritizes Judeo-Christian values, and how the U.S.’s interpretation of religious freedom compares with that of foreign countries and international human rights courts.

Spring 2014:

LPS 100: 1st Amendment: The Costs of Free Speech in the U.S.
The First Amendment to the United States Constitution reads: “Congress shall make no law … abridging the freedom of speech.” Does this really mean that we should have no laws that limit the ability of a citizen to speak publicly? In this class we will read J.S. Mill’s call for absolute free speech, Cass Sunstein’s view that speech should be limited for some purposes, and several key Supreme Court decisions dealing with the exercise of free speech in the United States. We will work to unpack how the Court’s definition of “free speech.” Also, this class will ask you to consider free speech as an integral part of a democratic political system. What kind of democracy can we have if the ability to speak is limited by topic, manner, context, or speaker? Throughout this course we will consider how each thinker’s views, and each decision by the Court, relies upon a vision of democracy. This class asks the question, can we claim to have free speech in the United States today?

Fall 2013:

LPS 100: The 14th Amendment's Promise
This course, required of LPS majors, will look in-depth at the doctrine of equal protection coming from Supreme Court review of 14th Amendment cases. It will also examine social movement mobilization around 14th Amendment claims. We will read case law, social science, and journalistic coverage of equal protection cases from the Slaughterhouse era, to 2012.

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