Know Your Rights: Constitutional Civil Liberties and Civil Rights
This course examines the history of the U.S. Supreme Court and its role as the interpreter of our fundamental rights. What provisions of the U.S. Constitution allow us to live as we please, to worship flying spaghetti monsters if we wish, to hold and publicly express political and social opinions, to read and print whatever material we want, to be free from discrimination, to expect equal protection under the law, to have our vote count, and to keep government out of our personal and private lives? Are these freedoms absolute or can the government regulate in ways that restrict our constitutional freedoms? How have changing justices and changing times affected our civil liberties and civil rights?
This course is designed to develop critical thinking, writing, and speaking skills through legal analysis of U.S. Supreme Court cases. Students will be required to apply their research and writing skills by doing a written historical, political, social and legal analysis of a landmark Supreme Court case involving civil liberties/rights. Critical speaking skills will be honed by a mock appellate oral argument based on a hypothetical case designed to explore the tension between civil liberties and civil rights guaranteed by the Constitution and the need for government to regulate and maintain order.