John Marshall, Marbury v. Madison

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PLSC 4335 Dr. Carol Ann Traut

Constitutional Law Office Hours: MWF

9:00-9:50 a.m., MWF Office: MB 4244

MB 4143 552-2341/-2850

Written constitutions ... form ...the fundamental and paramount

law of the nation.–John Marshall, Marbury v. Madison (1 Cranch 137, 1803)
Courts are the mere instruments of the law, and can will nothing.

John Marshall, Osborn v. the Bank (9 Wheaton 738, 1824)
It is ... the province and duty of the judicial department to say what the

law is. –John Marshall, Marbury v. Madison (1 Cranch 137, 1803)
The learning objectives of this course include the following:

  1. Students will be able to describe the history, role, and function of the federal judicial branch and of the United States Supreme Court in particular in the American political system.

  1. Second, the student will be able to identify and describe major U. S. Supreme Court decisions on constitutional law.

  1. The student will be able to prepare analytical (student) briefs summarizing major Court decisions.

  1. The student will be able to describe both law interpretation and analysis.

  1. The student will be able to describe the federal court policies and procedures.


Text: Epstein, Lee & Walker, Thomas G. (2014). Constitutional Law for a Changing

America; Institutional Powers and Restraints 8th edition. Washington: CQ Press. (ISBN 978-1-4522-2676-7). PLUS other readings as assigned.

Midsemester exam 30

Final exam 30

Quizzes and other written work 20

Class attendance/participation 20
Attendance is essential to understanding the material, and student contribution add to the knowledge of us all. This is difficult reading–we really need you in class. Therefore, students should attend all classes and notify the instructor as soon as possible in case of absences. Attendance will be taken into grade calculation.

Students who think that they may require assistance for any type of physical or learning

disability should consult with me ASAP! To request academic accommodations for a disability, contact the PASS Office in the MESA Building, Room 1160, 432-552-2630. Students are required to provide documentation of disability to the PASS Office prior to receiving accommodations.


  1. Aug. 25-Sept.3, 2014

Preliminaries, Constitutional history, Judicial branch structure and procedures.

READ: E & W, pp. 3-10, 49-56

Alexander Hamilton, Federalist Paper #78 (handout)

  1. Sept.5-12, 2014 Defining the role of the Court. READ: E & W, pp.11-46

  1. Sept.15-24, 2014 Defining the powers of the President. READ: E & W, pp.183-256

  1. Sept.26-Oct.8, 2014 Congress.

READ: E & W, pp.120-182 (OMIT McCulloch v. MD for now!)

  1. Oct.10-15, 2014

Executive-Legislative relationships

READ: E & W, pp.257-322.

************EXAMINATION 1********October 17 *************

Oct. 20-24, 2014

  1. Federalism.

READ: E & W, pp.323-391. (Plus read pp.148-156 for McCulloch)

VII. Oct.27-31, 2014

Commerce powers of Congress.

READ: E & W, pp.392-502

IX. Nov.3-7, 2014

Taxation and Spending Powers, Contract Clause.

READ: E & W, pp.503-604.
X. Nov.10-19, 2014

Economic Due Process.

READ: E & W, pp. 606-662.
XI. Nov.21-Dec. 3, 2014

Takings Clause.

READ: E & W, pp.663-695.

*****FINAL EXAMINATION*****Week of December 8-11*******10:15-12:15.
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