Dr. Robert C. Jeffrey
Associate Professor of Government

Govt. 411 - Constitutional Law of the United States

Syllabus for Summer 2002

Dr. Robert Jeffrey
206 Daniel Building
Phone: x4581 (office) or 948-1297 (home)
E-mail: jeffreyrc@wofford.edu or rcjeffrey@home.com 
Office Hours: before or after class

Required Books

The Supreme Court, by Chief Justice William H. RehnquistDouglas W. Kmiec and Stephen W. Presser, The American Constitutional Order: History, Cases, and Philosophy (Anderson Publishing Company, 1998).

Kmiec and Presser, 2000-2001 Supplement to The American Constitutional Order (Anderson Publishing Company, 2001).

William H. Rehnquist, The Supreme Court (Alfred A. Knopf Inc., 2001)

Course plan:
June 3
Introduction to Constitutional Law
June 4
Rehnquist, The Supreme Court, pp. 3-20, 224-266
Review of the Constitution of the United States (Kmiec and Presser, xliii-lxi)
June 5: Judicial Review
Rehnquist, The Supreme Court, pp. 21-35
Kmiec and Presser, pp. 359-374
Scalia Article (xeroxed)
June 6: Natural Law/Common Law Background
Kmiec and Presser, pp. 11-27, 35-37, 38-43, 53-56, 69-71, 89-93, 121-131, 135-137, 141-142, 146-147, 152-153, 163-171
June 7: Establishment Clause I
Kmiec and Presser, pp. 171-213, 219-230
Everson v. Board of Education (1947)
Lee v. Weisman (1992)
Rosenberger v. Rector (1995)
Take Home Essay I
June 10: Establishment Clause II
Kmiec and Presser, pp. 241-251, 257-275, Supplement (xerox)
Lemon v. Kurtzman (1971)
Mitchell v. Helms (2000)
Wallace v. Jaffree (1985)
June 11: Free Exercise Clause I
Kmiec and Presser, pp. 275-292, 297-305
Reynolds v. United States (1878)
Wisconsin v. Yoder (1972)
United States v. Seeger (1964)
June 12: Free Exercise Clause II
Kmiec and Presser, pp. 305-332
Braunfield v. Brown (1961)
Sherbert v. Verner (1963)
Employment Division v. Smith (1990)
City of Boerne v. Flores
June 13: Separation of Powers I
Kmiec and Presser, pp. 374-416
INS v. Chadha (1983)
Youngstown Sheet and Tube Co. v. Sawyer (1952)
Rehnquist, The Supreme Court, pp. 151-192
June 14: Separation of Powers II
Kmiec and Presser, pp. 420-430
Myers v. United States (1926)
Humphrey's Executor v. United States (1935)
Take Home Essay II
June 17: Limited Government and Commerce Clause I
Kmiec and Presser, pp. 501-516, 530-543,543-555 (recommended), 555-563
Rehnquist, The Supreme Court, pp. 36-43
McCulloch v. Maryland (1819)
Gibbons v. Ogden (1824)
Wickard v. Filburn (1942)
June 18: Limited Government and Commerce Clause II
Kmiec and Presser, pp. 564-581, Supplement
Rehnquist, The Supreme Court, pp. 116-150
United States v. Lopez (1995)
United States v. Morrison (2000)
June 19: Federalism I
Kmiec and Presser, pp. 606-642, 688-695
U.S. Term Limits v. Thornton (1995)
South Dakota v. Dole (1987)
June 20: Federalism II
Kmiec and Presser, pp. 643-687
National League of Cities v. Usery (1976)
Garcia v. San Antonio Transit Authority (1985)
Printz v. United States (1997)
June 21: Free Speech I
Kmiec and Presser, pp. 947-961, 967-969, 971-984, 992-995, Supplement
New York Times Co. v. United States (1971)
New York Times Co. v. Sullivan (1964)
Hill v. Colorado (2000)
Take Home Essay III
June 24: Free Speech II
Kmiec and Presser, pp. 995-1041
United States v. O'Brien (1968)
Texas v. Johnson (1989)
Barnes v. Glen Theatre, Inc. (1991)
Wisconsin v. Mitchell (1993)
June 25: Equal Protection I
Kmiec and Presser, pp. 1141-1142, 1187-1202, 1232-1273
Plessy v. Ferguson (1896)
Brown v. Board of Education (1954)
Richmond v. Croson (1989)
Adarand v. Pena (1995)
June 26: Equal Protection II
Kmiec and Presser, pp. 1273-1314
Miller v. Johnson (1995)
Reynolds v. Sims (1964)
June 27: Equal Protection III
Kmiec and Presser, pp. 1315-1355
United States v. Virginia (1996)
June 28: Equal Protection IV
Kmiec and Presser, pp. 1356-1376, Supplement
Bowers v. Hardwick (1986)
Romer v. Evans (1996)
Boy Scouts of America v. Dale (2000)
Take Home Essay IV
July 1: Unenumerated Constitutional Rights
Kmiec and Presser, pp. 726-729, 1385-1402, 1426-1447
Palko v. Connecticut (1937)
Meyer v. Nebraska (1923)
Pierce v. Society of Sisters (1925)
Loving v. Virginia (1967)
Griswold v. Connecticut (1965)
Eisenstadt v. Baird (1972)
July 2: Abortion I
Kmiec and Presser, pp. 1447-1451, 1456-1502
Planned Parenthood v. Casey (1992)
July 3: Abortion II
Kmiec and Presser, Supplement
Stenberg v. Carhart (2000)
July 4
Course Requirements:
Weekend Take-Home Essays 40%
Case Precis 20%
Quizzes and Participation 20%
Final Exam 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 ten 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 the main arguments of the opinion of the Court, the 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. Please avoid just quoting different parts of the opinion. Learn to paraphrase artfully and to summarize with your own mind. 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 day over the assigned readings. The quiz will take no longer 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 most 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.

Homepage for Dr. Robert C. Jeffrey

 Last Update: June 25, 2002