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Fall 2017

The U.S. Constitution – What It Says, What It Means, Why It Matters

Mondays, 12:30 – 2:30

Niles Schore, Instructor
Niles’ email:

Course Materials:

Course Syllabus

Full text of the U. S. Constitution

Articles of Confederation

Declaration of Independence, July 4, 1776

Compare Versions of the Declaration of Independence

Original Thirteen States

Poster United States 1783-1803 Shephard 1923

Citations, Reports, On-line Legal

Links to Course-related Websites

Week 1 – September 11, 2017

Please read:

Evaluating a Supreme Court Case — First Look

Northwest Ordinance; July 13, 1787

How An Idea Becomes the Law

NPR tweeted Declaration of Independence and angered some who didn’t recognize it

10 Hours, a Few Sharpies, One Act of Resistance: Writing the Constitution – The New York Times

NYTimes: Where Did ‘We the People’ Go? – We’re having crises of truth, division and authority.

Errant comma forces new pot vote in Manchester

Charles Krauthammer: Trump’s worst week was a strong one for American democracy

Maine Voices: If we demand leaders with character, that will make America great

Bill Nemitz: One comma left out gives judge pause in Oakhurst overtime case

Obscure law thwarts eateries’ attempts to boost workers’ wages with service charge

Notes:  Week 1

Week 2 – September 18, 2017

1. Redistricting/Apportionment cases
a. Bethune-Hill v. VA Bd. of Elections
b. Evenwell v. Texas
c. Harris v. Ind. Redistricting Comm’n.
d. Vieth v. Jubelirer
e. Whitford v. Gill
f. Additional Whitford v. Gill link

Justices have long said that drawing districts based on extreme partisanship is unconstitutional, but haven’t found a way to decide when lines are crossed.

The challengers in a Wisconsin case that could impose limits on a practice that has helped define American politics say partisanship in redrawn districts can be measured.

Sophisticated computer modeling has taken district manipulation to new extremes. To fix this, courts might have to learn how to run the numbers themselves.

Notes:  Week 2

Week 3 – September 25, 2017

1. Necessary and Proper Clause
a. Hamilton’s Opinion on the US Bank
b. Jefferson’s Opinion on the US Bank 

2. Spending Power – South Dakota v. Dole

3. ACA Obamacare – NFIB v. Sibelius

4. Another View: Trump’s moves won’t jibe with Constitution

5. Impeachment History

6. Arpaio Pardon

7.  Notes for Week 3

Week 4 – October 2, 2017

Please read:
1. Legislators have a constitutional responsibility to approve protracted foreign military action.
2. Charles Krauthammer: In Trumpian era, American democracy is not so decadent, after all
3. Don’t despair. Our constitutional system is working as it’s supposed to.
4. The G.O.P. has no coherent idea or shared vision of what it wants to achieve, aside from killing Obamacare.
5. Question: In Week 2, we said that the two essential elements of American Democracy are first, majority rule and second, the protection of the minority from the tyranny of the majority.  Is the Electoral College the mechanism by which the minority is protected from the tyranny of the majority? Or is it simply a barrier to democracy in the twenty-first century?

Week 5 – October 9, 2017

For more information about Executive Orders, see:

Week 6 – October 16, 2017

Not all conservatives are originalists, nor are all originalists conservative:

Members of the Supreme Court

Ratification of the Constitution by State and Date

Weaponizing the Past

Originalism according to the Heritage Foundation

Judge Posner Interview

Notes for Week 6

Week 8 – October 30, 2017

The Constitution in the 21st Century

Tribute to Hope in a Democratic Society – Take Me out

Instead of freedom, workers at companies like Uber have encountered low wages and coercion.

Mr. Abrams, a titan of free speech jurisprudence, says the Twitter trail could be a gift to lawyers defending journalists during leak investigations.

With the addition of Justice Neil Gorsuch, a twisted notion of “religious freedom” is likely to keep winning at the court.

Judge blocks Trump’s move to cut funding for ‘sanctuary cities’

Santa Clara v. Trump