! 2007 Summer 1 - UNIVERSITY OF TEXAS AT AUSTIN, Summer...

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UNIVERSITY OF TEXAS AT AUSTIN, Summer 2007 POLITICS OF CONSTITUTIONAL MEANING Government s312L Professor Benjamin Gregg Time: M-F 11:30-1 bgregg@mail.utexas.edu Place: Welch Hall 2.122 Office: Mezes Hall 3.138 Justin Dyer, BAT 1.118, W/Th 10-11:30, justindyer19@yahoo.com Office Hours: M-F 1-1:40 Jonghoon Eun, BAT 1.118, W 2-5, silverbell@mail.utexas.edu Unique Number: 86125 We examine constitutional law, American political culture, and the sociology of rules by focusing on a problem central to our legal regime: the indeterminacy of some legal rules. Legal indeterminacy refers to the lack of determinate knowledge: knowledge of what a legal rule means and of how judges and others should apply it. Where law is indeterminate, no theory, rule, or principle constrains a judge to interpret or apply a law in a particular way. Consequently a case could have several different answers, yet all of them equally valid. While few scholars or judges today view law itself as something static, the notion that judges make rather than find law implies to many observers consequences such as unequal or arbitrary treatment of individuals. Where law is determinate, however, it may have an exclusively “correct” meaning and “proper” application, in short, one “right” answer. If justice through law is predicated on such qualities as consistency and even objectivity, then determinacy, in one form or another, might seem to be a prerequisite for justice. And yet, as this course will demonstrate, much law at the constitutional level is indeterminate. This course explores how the Supreme Court and other branches of the American government have coped with this phenomenon -- presenting both problems and opportunities -- over two centuries in six major areas: property, privacy, equal protection, expression, religion, and (briefly) the separation of powers. EVALUATION Your grade is the average of four short in-class essays, weighted equally and adjusted for the quality of class-participation (see “briefing” below). You will choose from several tightly configured topics. You must write the fifth essay and any three of the remaining four essays; you may not write more than four essays. ► Class participation includes “briefing” cases; this is an extremely important element of the course and students should maximize this opportunity for immediate critical feedback on case analysis. Each student must brief at least once, and the quality of his or her brief will constitute 10% of the final grade. The final grade of a student who fails to brief the case or cases which he or she has been assigned will be lowered two full grades for each such failure. The TAs will
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This note was uploaded on 07/01/2009 for the course GOV 312L taught by Professor Madrid during the Summer '07 term at University of Texas at Austin.

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! 2007 Summer 1 - UNIVERSITY OF TEXAS AT AUSTIN, Summer...

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