Fall 2013

The American Constitution II: Federalism, Privacy, and the "Equal Protection of the Laws"

Listed in: Political Science, as POSC-242

Formerly listed as: POSC-42

Moodle site: Course


Hadley P. Arkes (Section 01)


[LP, AP] [IL - starting with the Class of 2015] In applying the Constitution to particular cases, it becomes necessary to appeal to certain “principles of law” that were antecedent to the Constitution--principles that existed before the Constitution, and which did not depend, for their authority, on the text of the Constitution. But in some cases it is necessary to appeal to principles that were peculiar to the government that was established in the “decision of 1787”; the decisions that framed a new government under a new Constitution. This course will try to illuminate that problem by considering the grounds on which the national government claims to vindicate certain rights by overriding the authority of the States and private institutions. Is the federal government obliged to act as a government of “second resort” after it becomes clear that the State and local governments will not act? Or may the federal government act in the first instance, for example, to bar discriminations based on race, and may it reach, with its authority, to private businesses, private clubs, even private households? The course will pursue these questions as it deals with a number of issues arising from the “equal protection of the laws”--most notably, with the problem of discriminations based on race and sex, with racial quotas and “reverse discrimination.” In addition, the course will deal with such topics as: self-incrimination, the exclusionary rule, the regulation of “vices,” and censorship over literature and the arts. (This course may be taken independently of POSC 241, The American Constitution I.)

Fall semester. Professor Arkes.

Cost: 13.00 ?


2014-15: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2008, Fall 2011, Fall 2013