These pages will be updated regularly during the course.
CHAPTER 1: COURSE INTRODUCTION
CHAPTER 2: THE CONSTITUTION
Full text of the Constitution (Students need to be referring to it regularly.)
Here are some salient documents:
James Madison’s Notes Taken at Philadelphia, 1787: https://avalon.law.yale.edu/subject_menus/debcont.asp
You should click onto a couple of dates to get the flavor.
The Federalist Papers (the campaign for ratification): https://thefederalistpapers.org/federalist-papers
The Antifederalist Papers (the campaign against ratification): http://www.thefederalistpapers.org/anti-federalist-papers
And, a couple of relevant videos: http://digital.films.com/play/PVHEZS and http://www.annenbergclassroom.org/page/key-constitutional-concepts.
The Constitution is in the back of your textbook, and you will need to be studying it and referring to it on an ongoing basis.
CHAPTER 3: FEDERALISM
Federalist Paper No. 46
(In the Federalist Papers, Madison, Hamilton, and Jay wrote of the virtues of specific aspects of the new system of government created by the Constitution they were campaigning for. Here, Madison writes of the relationship between state and federal levels of government. Be aware that, while Madison strongly favored having a federal government, there were times later when he also argued against letting that federal government be too powerful. He and Jefferson wrote the Virginia and Kentucky Resolutions of 1798, where they asserted the right of states to nullify unconstitutional federal laws, referring specifically to the Alien and Sedition Acts of the John Adams administration.)
Full text of the U.S. Justice Department’s complaint against the new Texas abortion law, filed September 9, 2021 (very relevant to federalism).
Full text of letter from multiple state attorneys general to President Biden objecting to the planned vaccine mandate, sent September 16, 2021: vaccinemandateletter
CHAPTER 4: CIVIL LIBERTIES
Here are some sample cases. Please let me know if there are any others that you would like assistance searching. If you read them, don’t try to read every word and memorize every idea, but rather, zero in on key passages and get the idea of what is the constitutional question and how the court answered it. Also, with any Supreme Court ruling, remember that what year it was written is important, because a Supreme Court ruling needs to be seen, not as the timeless words of wisdom from on high, but rather, as a historical event in a specific historical context.
Schenck v. United States (1919), freedom of speech case where the court ruled that the government can prohibit speech which poses a “clear and present danger.” (Later rulings did not overturn this doctrine but refined it in favor of freedom of speech. Those later rulings made more of the difference between abstract opinion, even when that abstract opinion favors violent overthrow of the government, and direct advocacy or incitement to “imminent lawless action.”
Escobedo v. Illinois (1964), rights-of-accused-persons case where the Warren court required courts to follow the exclusionary rule, excluding evidence that was obtained without a proper search warrant.
Supplemental cases on the rights of accused persons: In 2013, the Supreme Court decided two cases, both from Florida, that involved the use of police dogs trained to sniff drugs. In a 5-4 decision, in Florida v. Jardines, the court ruled that it was not all right for a police officer to bring a police dog uninvited onto someone’s front porch and then, based on the dog’s reaction, go and get a search warrant to search the house for drugs. Interestingly, it was not a neat split between conservative and liberal. Justice Antonin Scalia, usually a law-and-order conservative, voted with the majority that what the police had done was not all right, as did fellow conservative Clarence Thomas, while Justice Stephen Breyer, a liberal, voted with the conservatives (except Scalia) on the side of the police and the search. But in a unanimous decision in Florida v. Harris, the Court ruled that the sanctity that one enjoys in one’s house does not extend to one’s car; they ruled that searching a car based on a police dog’s reaction was legitimate. Article in Slate, March 26, 2013. Full text of Jardines ruling. Full text of Harris ruling.
CHAPTER 5: CIVIL RIGHTS
Plessy v. Ferguson (1896): Here, when the era of Jim Crow segregation and lyching in the South was bad and getting worse, the Supreme Court ruled that “separate but equal” was all right with the Fourteenth Amendment. This case involved railway cars; segregation in public schools was not being treated as a big issue at the time.
Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka, Kansas (1954): For the public schools, the Court overturned the Plessy ruling, saying now that separate is not equal. The court articulated that principle, but postponed issuing orders for what was to be done about it until the following year.
Brown II (1955): This is where the court ordered the public schools desegregated “with all deliberate speed.”
Please note that there is loads and loads of case law following the Brown decision, including school busing and also affirmative action in public university admissions. Students interested in specifics should contact me.
Obergefell v. Hodges (2015): This is the decision from the Court making gay marriage legal in all 50 states, using the 14th Amendment to strike down state laws to the contrary.
CHAPTER 6: PUBLIC OPINION
Oliver and Wood article, “Conspiracy Theories and the Paranoid Style(s) of Mass Opinion” (American Journal of Political Science, 2014): conspr14
J. Eric Oliver and Wendy M. Rahn, “Rise of the Trumpenvolk: Populism in the 2016 Election” (Annals, 2016): populism
Matthew MacWilliams, “The One Weird Trait That Predicts Whether You’re a Trump Supporter” (Politico Magazine, 2016):
Article in Vox on the scholarship on the authoritarian personality and its applications to the Trump campaign, March 1, 2016.
Marc J. Hetherington and Elizabeth Suhay, “Authoritarianism, Threat, and Americans’ Support for the War on Terror” (American Journal of Political Science, 2011): authoritarian1
CHAPTER 7: VOTING AND ELECTIONS
CHAPTER 8: THE MEDIA
CHAPTER 9: POLITICAL PARTIES
How to tell Republicans from Democrats? The New York Times ran this guide a few decades ago. Excerpt: “Democrats give their worn-out clothes to those less fortunate. Republicans wear theirs. Republicans employ exterminators. Democrats step on the bugs…. Democrats eat the fish they catch. Republicans hang them on the wall.”
CHAPTER 10: INTEREST GROUPS
Federalist Paper #10 (1788) by Madison
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CHAPTER 11: CONGRESS
How often does the president veto a bill, and how often does Congress override that veto? It’s all spelled out here.
CHAPTER 12: THE PRESIDENCY
Article assigned in conjunction with Chapter 12: Pfiffner, “Decision Making in the Obama White House” (2011). pfiffner
Article in Politico Magazine, june 3, 2021, on a legal question surrounding Trump’s possible liability for the January 6 insurrction.
CHAPTER 13: THE FEDERAL JUDICIARY
CHAPTER 15: THE FEDERAL BUREAUCRACY
CHAPTER 16: DOMESTIC POLICY
Here’s the 2012 Supreme Court ruling in which the Court upheld Obamacare but required that state expansion of Medicaid coverage be optional for each state rather than mandatory. National Federation of Independent Business v. Sebelius.
NPR report in August 2016 about the 1996 welfare reform act
September 2021 updates:
Bipartisan infrastructure bill passed by the Senate in July 2021: New York Times, August 10/11, 2021
May 2021 updates:
The COVID relief package: New York Times, March 7, 2021
Biden’s proposed Jobs Act: CNN, updated April 21, 2021
Biden’s proposed Families Act: CNN, updated April 28, 2021
Republican opposition in the Senate: TheHill, May 4, 2021
FDR’s Economic Bill of Rights Speech, January 11, 1944
Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s Green New Deal resolution, as introduced in the House February 7, 2019 (Especially in the last section, you should see some themes in common with FDR’s Economic Bill of Rights speech.)
CHAPTER 17: FOREIGN POLICY
On the opening of relations with Castroite Cuba: http://www.politico.com/magazine/story/2015/08/obamas-favorite-castro-121342
On the nuclear accords Obama made with Iran in 2015: