Course - Law


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Course Description:


The History of the Bill of Rights is a feature of every Supreme Court term.  Congress and the Executive join with putative claims of “the Framers” intent.  The media throws up pictures of one “founder” or another as occasion arises with little or no context. 


But what gets left out in the retelling?


This course will focus on the history in context incorporating theories of constitutional interpretation such as originalism, progressive originalism, and living constitution. 


Learning Goals:  Students should leave this course with a deeper understanding of the context of modern constitutional law and rights.  A law student can easily graduate without ever having read in their entirety the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution, or the Bill of Rights.  Most have heard of Magna Carta (1215) but not other key documents like The English Bill of Rights (1688) or John Locke’s Two Treatises of Government (1689).      



Cour packet to be purchased at UA Bookstore and cases available through Westlaw.

Course Format

During the semester consisting of 14 sessions, we will follow the general structure of the Bill of Rights referring to the Declaration and Constitution.  We will center sessions on critical discussion of various topics regarding the history of the bill of rights including short lectures.  Each session will have a reading list of selected law review articles, cases and/or historical documents.  Reading for a typical session may include an historical document such as The Bill of Rights, one or two key law review articles, and one to three cases.  Case readings will be of particular import.  Some present history and others apply it.  Crawford v. Washington, 541 U.S. 36 (2004) and Miranda v. Arizona, 384 U.S. 436 (1966) are examples.

Written Assignments  
Type of Exam  
Basis for grading

Short paper, mid-term exam, final exam (comprehensive) with equal weight to all three. 

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