The Evolution of Constitutional Law Beyond the 20th Century

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Fall 2017 and Winter 2018 quarters

Taught by

law, literature, theatre

What does it mean when we say the Constitution of the United States is a living document? What are the major shifts in U.S. Supreme Court doctrine? How have the First Amendment speech and religion clauses expanded and encompassed corporations and money as speech? How have women’s reproductive rights been eroded to the extent that, based on their personal religious beliefs, some employers can refuse to provide to their employees health insurance that includes birth control coverage? What are the legal issues raised by current immigration cases?

In this program, we will ask these and related questions as we explore the landscape of judicial review in the 21st century. We will look for answers to our questions by exploring a number of substantive issues currently raised in the courts by the people and their representatives. These issues include higher education student debt, economic disparities and taxation, availability and access to health care insurance, reproductive rights, voting rights, immigration, age discrimination, the criminal justice system, ideals of equal justice under the law, and others.

Lectures, readings, and discussions will examine constitutional theories and legal construction of selected cases, with a particular focus on the currently sitting Roberts Court. Students and faculty will review legal precedents related to constitutional doctrines raised by the Supreme Court’s interpretations of the law, established in its decisions, and analyzed and discussed by the legal community in law review articles and related academic periodicals. The program will employ the Socratic method to explore and examine students’ abilities to “think like a lawyer,” thereby deepening critical thinking and reasoning. Additionally, it is expected that students will acquire an enhanced knowledge of when and how precedents have evolved.

Students will conduct legal research on specific issues that will include legal history on constitutional evolution and federal statutes. Through this process, students will expand understanding of precedents and recent U.S. Supreme Court decisions impacting rights and responsibilities of citizens.

Concomitant with program content and research, students will prepare and demonstrate knowledge of constitutional law and legislative history by participating in moot court activities. Students will be placed in teams to research and present written and oral arguments on a selected topic for the Evergreen moot court competition. As part of this process, students will write legal memoranda and briefs on the case presented before the moot court. In preparing for moot court, students will be instructed, coached, and judged by Evergreen faculty as well as lawyers and judges outside of the Evergreen community.

Program Details

Fields of Study

american studies government history law and government policy

Preparatory For

law, government, and public policy


Fall Open Winter Open

Location and Schedule

Final Schedule and Room Assignment

Campus Location


Time Offered


Advertised Schedule

First class meeting: Monday, September 25 at 10am (Sem II B3109)

Online Learning

No Required Online Learning