Dr. Robert C. Jeffrey
Associate Professor of Government

Govt. 411 - Constitutional Law

Syllabus for spring 2005

Dr. Robert Jeffrey
206 Daniel Building
Office Phone: x4581
Home Phone: 948-1297
E-mail: jeffreyrc@wofford.edu or rcjeffrey@home.com
Office Hours:

Required Books

Douglas W. Kmiec and Stephen W. Presser, The American Constitutional Order: History, Cases, and Philosophy

William H. Rehnquist, The Supreme Court

Course plan
Week Of:
February 7:  Introduction to the Supreme Court
Rehnquist, The Supreme Court, Introduction, Chs. 11-14
February 14:  Principles and Background of American Constitutionalism
Rehnquist, The Supreme Court, Chs. 1, 6
Kmiec and Presser, pp. 371-387 (Judicial Review)
Constitution of the United States, pp. xxxiii-l
Kmiec and Presser, pp. 1-5, 9-14, 17-27, 30-32, 40-42, 56-59, 68-71, 93-103, 107-117, 121-126, 136-154
February 21:  Background of Religion Clauses and Establishment Clause
Kmiec and Presser, pp. 159-161, 163-176, 178-279
  Everson v. Board of Eductation (1947)
Lee v. Weisman (1992)
  Capitol Square Review and Advisory Board v. Pinette (1995)
  Rosenberger v. Rector (1995)
  Good News Club v. Milford Central School (2001)
  Lemon v. Kurtzman (1971)
  Zelman v. Simmons-Harris (2002)
  Wallace v. Jaffree (1985)
February 28:  Free Exercise Clause
Kmiec and Presser, pp. 279-333
  Reynolds v. United States (1878)
  Wisconsin v. Yoder (1972)
  United States v. Seegar (1964)
  Braunfield v. Brown (1961)
  Sherbert v. Verner (1963)
  Employment Division v. Smith (1990)
March 7:  Separation of Powers
Kmiec and Presser, pp. 387-464, 510-511, 520-522
Rehnquist, The Supreme Court, Chs. 8-9
  INS v. Chadha (1983)
  Youngstown Sheet and Tube Co. v. Sawyer (1952)
  Myers v. United States (1926)
  Humphrey's Executor v. United States (1935)
March 14:  Limited Government and the Commerce Clause
Kmiec and Presser, pp. 523-541, 546-560, 574-608
Rehnquist, The Supreme Court, Chs. 2, 7
  McCulloch v. Maryland (1819)
  Gibbons v. Ogden (1824)
  Wickard v. Filburn (1942)
  United States v. Lopez (1995)
March 21:  Federalism
Kmiec and Presser, pp. 631-677, 696-707
  U.S. Term Limits v. Thornton (1995)
  National League of Cities v. Usery (1976)
  Garcia v. San Antonio Transit Authority (1985)
  South Dakota v. Dole (1987)
March 28:  Free Speech I
Kmiec and Presser, pp. 947-1013
Rehnquist, The Supreme Court, Ch. 10
  New York Times Co. v. United States (1971)
  Krishna Consciousness v. Lee (1992)
  Hill v. Colorado (2000)
  New York Times Co. v. Sullivan (1964)
April 11:  Free Speech II
Kmiec and Presser, pp. 1025-1079
  United States v. O'Brien (1968)
  Texas v. Johnson (1989)
  Barnes v. Glen Theatre, Inc. (1991)
  Wisconsion v. Mitchell (1993)
April 14: Equal Protection I
Kmiec and Presser, pp. 1221-1222, 1237-1250, 1283-1347
Rehnquist, The Supreme Court, Ch. 3
  Plessy v. Ferguson (1896)
  Brown v. Board of Education (1954)
  Adarand v. Pena (1995)
  Grutter v. Bollinger (2003)
  Miller v. Johnson (1995)
April 25:  Equal Protection II
Kmiec and Presser, pp. 1347-1366, 1392-1427
  Reynolds v. Sims (1964)
  United States v. Virginia (1996)
  Romer v. Evans (1996)
May2:  Unenumerated Constitutional Rights and Abortion
Kmiec and Presser, pp. 1429-1453, 1468-1507
  Meyer v. Nebraska (1923)
  Pierce v. Society of Sisters (1925)
  Troxel v. Granville (2000)
  Loving v. Virginia (1967)
  Griswold v. Connecticut (1965)
  Eisenstadt v. Baird (1972)
  Roe v. Wade (1973)
May 3:  Abortion continued, and Homosexuality

Kmiec and Presser, pp. 1508-1559, 1580-1600

  Planned Parenthood v. Casey (1992)
  Stenberg v. Carhart (2000)
  Lawrence v. Texas (2003)
Course Requirements:
2 Mid-term Exams 40%
Final Exam 20%
Case Precis 20%
Quizzes and Participation 20%

Case Precis:

Each student will be assigned a case to report on to the class. The student will prepare a 5-7 page paper beforehand to read in class at the appropriate time. The report shall not take longer than seven minutes, after which the student will answer any questions from the class or from me. You should think of these reports as a brief of the case, in which you summarize the facts and identify the main arguments and contentions in the opinion of the Court, as well as in the important dissents and concurrences. You should also take a position on the case and say why you think the case was rightly or wrongly decided. As much as possible, you should base your judgment on what you know about American constitutionalism and not on your personal opinion. Please avoid simply quoting different parts of the opinion. Learn to paraphrase artfully and to summarize with your own voice. I will hand out assignments for the second week on the second day of class, and for the rest of the term the second week of class (after the numbers stabilize).

Quizzes and Participation:

There will be a brief quiz each Friday over the readings for the week. The quiz will take no more than 5-10 minutes. The quiz grades will be averaged at the end of the semester. Positive class participation will be factored into the participation grade at my discretion. The lowest quiz grade will be dropped for each student. Regular attendance is expected. Unexcused absences will lower you participation grade substantially. After two unexcused absences I may ask you to withdraw from the course.


Our purpose in the course is to become familiar with all of the key areas in constitutional law as well as with the key cases which illustrate the thinking of the Court in these areas. Emphasis will be placed on the arguments used by the Court to justify their decisions and how these arguments have changed, especially in modern times. I will also stress the crucial issue of the methodology of constitutional interpretation by constant comparison of the Founders’ views with the views of the Court over time. The student will be compelled to consider the relationship between a self-limiting view of the Court’s role and the possibility of republican government. I have also found that studying Court cases is a terrific way to learn more about the American regime. This is because, no matter what you think of any particular Court decision, the Supreme Court is our only institution which consistently makes formal reasoned arguments in consideration of our founding documents, and hence the principles and ends of our nation.

Free Speech and the Expression of Opinions:

We will all be expressing opinions in this course. In fact, I will be requiring you to do so when you as a student and citizen evaluate the reasoning of the members of the Supreme Court. Further, we will disagree among ourselves, and all of you will be likely at some point to disagree with the professor. That is all right. It is more than all right. By offering the best arguments we can for what we opine, and at the same time acknowledging the arguments of the other side, we testify to our utmost respect for speech and its ability to reveal truth to those who labor with the mind on its behalf. I do ask that you consider that all opinions can’t be right—that sometimes one must be true and the other false. We will see instances of this. Yet apart from the fact that most opinions contain some truth, we will also see that people with whom we disagree are sincere in their reasoning. This testifies to the weakness as well as the power of the human mind. It goes without saying that in the class you will be graded on your familiarity with the cases and the arguments rather than on your opinions.

Dr. Robert Jeffrey
Daniel 206
x4581 (office)
948-1297 (home)


Homepage for Dr. Robert C. Jeffrey

 Last Update: March 25, 2005