Statue of Samuel Morris

HIS 376 History of Constitutional Issues: Institutional Powers (3 credits)

Course Description

History 376 considers the development of judicial review in relation to the powers of the President and Congress.  The course focuses on judicial interpretations of the commerce and taxing clauses as well as state powers under the due process clause of the 14th Amendment.   The Supreme Court was considered the “least dangerous branch” by Alexander Hamilton, but the power of the Court to affect policy and expand or check the power of the other branches has grown tremendously since the Constitution was first written.  This course will examine the important role that the Court played in interpreting the Constitution to allow for this growth in the institutional powers of the federal government.

Learning Results

Upon successful completion of this course, the student will be able to:
• Trace the historical alteration of the concept of federalism
• Discuss the role of judicial review in altering the role of the US Supreme Court in the American political system
• Identify and describe how the due process clause in the 14th Amendment enhanced the power of the
federal government in the 20th century
• List key court cases critical for understanding US constitutional development
• Summarize historical developments in the legislative, judicial and executive branches
• Detail how judicial decisions regarding the commerce clause have shaped congressional power in the 20th century
• Identify the "Constitutional Revolution of 1937"


Learning Documentation

This course consists of 14 assignments, the majority of which are essays, with no exams.

Learning Evaluation

Each assignment ranges from 25 to 125 points for a total of 1,000 points possible.

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