Levin College of Law
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Advanced Constitutional Law Seminar: Fourteenth Amendment: Racial Equality

Course Number: LAW 6936 Credits: 2

The focus of this seminar is the Fourteenth Amendment to the Constitution and the goal of racial equality. The Fourteenth Amendment encompasses critical principles of equality, liberty, justice and dignity under doctrines of equal protection and fundamental rights (including nearly all of the Bill of Rights and substantive due process rights).  The seminar will explore the history, interpretation, and modern context of application of the amendment to secure its primary purpose, equality on the basis of race.  One case of particular focus will be Brown v. Board of Education. While we will focus on race, we will also be exploring the meaning and application of the broad scope of the Fourteenth Amendment as the embodiment of core civil rights and civil liberties.  As part of the seminar you will identify a topic for an in-depth seminar paper that can focus either on racial equality or any other topic within 14th Amendment jurisprudence.

The reading weeks of the class (weeks 1-10) will be devoted to one primary historical text, Stamped from the Beginning by Ibram X. Kendi, as well as (1) identifying relevant data and issues of equality; (2) re-reading full versions of core cases familiar from your constitutional law course and adding cases on the core meaning of the 14th Amendment; and (3) reading selected law review articles on the 14th amendment and its interpretation and application.

Concurrent with the reading you will select a paper topic for an in-depth research paper.  After selecting a topic, you will create a research bibliography, conduct the research, write a draft paper, and submit a final paper. The last three sessions of the seminar will be devoted to presentations of the draft papers, and critical feedback and discussion that will be helpful in constructing the final draft.

The goal of the seminar is to give you an opportunity to seriously reflect upon and consider the relationship between law and public policy, and the role of history, culture and conceptual frameworks to legal strategy, constitutional analysis and social justice.  Your discussions with others as well as your research are vehicles to achieve that goal. This paper may also serve as a writing sample that can be used to demonstrate the sophistication of your research skills and your analytic capabilities.