Boston University School of Law

JD715 Constitutional History: The Founding Years (S)


This seminar will investigate constitutional history, from the years leading to the American Revolution through the coming of the Civil War, from several different angles, including presidential leadership, judicial interpretation, and legislative mandates. We will also consider how society at large debated, influenced, and helped shape the early Republic and its constitutionalism, paying particular attention to the themes of fluidity, contingency, and participation, and to the meaning of the phrase, "sovereignty of the people." We will examine how law, society, and politics inextricably mixed to set American constitutional development on particular paths that were not predetermined. Topics to be covered will include constitutional thought before and during the Revolution, the constitutional impact of the break with Britain, the origins and drafting of the Constitution, the political thought of various Founders, the development and implications of judicial review, launching the Republic during the administrations of Washington, Adams, Jefferson, and Madison, and the growth of democracy in the Republic in the aftermath of the War of 1812. No prior history background is necessary. LIMITED WRITING REQUIREMENT OPTION: A limited number of students may be permitted to satisfy the upper-class writing requirement with the approval of the Associate Dean for Academic Affairs. OFFERING PATTERN: This class is not offered every year. Students are advised to take this into account when planning their long-term schedule. **A student who fails to attend the initial meeting of a seminar (designated by an (S) in the title), or to obtain permission to be absent from either the instructor or the Registrar, may be administratively dropped from the seminar. Students who are on a wait list for a seminar are required to attend the first seminar meeting to be considered for enrollment.**