John Robison: Selected Issues in Law and the U.S. Supreme Court

Expanded Description:  Each participant should have access to a copy of the Constitution.  This course will not have any book or text; most of the reading will be an outline prepared by the instructor, supplemented by certain Supreme Court opinions and related articles, all of which can be found online for no charge.  (Those participants who still have a copy of The Supremes’ Greatest Hits by Michael G. Trachtman (2nd revised edition, 2016) should retain it, for they may find it helpful for parts of this course; however, it is not required or necessary.) 

Week 1.   Limitations on Legislative Power (What is the balance between federal and state powers to regulate commerce?  What should it be?)

            A.  The Commerce Clause:  Commerce Clause in the 1800s; Wickard v. Filburn (1942); 

                  Heart of Atlanta Motel v. United States (1964); Katzenbach v. McClung (1964); 

                  United States v. Lopez (1995); National Federation of Independent Business v.                           Sibelius (2012)

            B.  The Taking Clause

                  Kelo v. City of New London (2005)

Week 2.   Limitations on Executive Power (What are the limits on Presidential power?  What should they be?)

            Worcester v. Georgia (1832); Ex Parte Merryman (1861); Youngstown Sheet & Tube Co.          v. Sawyer (1952); United States v. Nixon (1974)

Week 3.   Affirmative Action (What is “fairness” with respect to race?)

            Regents of University of California v. Bakke (1978); Grutter v. Bollinger (2003); Gratz v. Bollinger (2003); Fisher v. University of Texas (2016)

Week 4.  Corporations and the Law (When should a corporation be treated the same as an individual?  When should they be different?)

            What is a corporation?; History of corporations in the Court; Citizens United v. Federal      Elections Commission (2010); Burwell v. Hobby Lobby Stores, Inc. (2014);

Week 5.  Update on the 2021-22 Term: Abortion (Should individual constitutional rights be recognized on issues where the Constitution is silent?  If so, based on what?)

            Griswold v. Connecticut (1965); Roe v. Wade (1973); Planned Parenthood v. Casey   (1992); Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization (2022)

Week 6.  Update on the 2021-22 Term: Guns; Administrative Agency Authority (Are the analytical tests used by the Court in these cases correct?  If not, what should they be?)

            A.  Guns: District of Columbia v. Heller (2008); N.Y. State Rifle & Pistol Association v.                   Bruen (2022)

            B.  Administrative Agency Authority: West Virginia v. EPA (2022)

Week 7.  Update on the 2021-22 Term: Religion (Has the Court drawn the right balance between the separation of church and state and the free exercise of religion?)

            Engel v. Vitale (1962); Lemon v. Kurtzman (1971); Van Orden v. Perry (2005);            McCreary County, Kentucky v. ACLU of Kentucky (2005); Kennedy v. Bremerton School District (2022); Carson v. Makin (2022)

 Week 8.  Morality and the Law (How are morality and the law different?  How are they the same?  When should they operate together, and when not?)

            Bowers v. Hardwick (1986); Lawrence v. Texas (2003); Riga, Law and Morals: The Perennial and Necessary Tandem