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Lee Epstein
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Lee Epsteing Ethan A.H. Shepley Distinguished University Professor
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CONSTITUTIONAL LAW: Institutional Powers and Constraints
Political Science 3431
Spring 2019

Page numbers below refer to Epstein & Walker, Constitutional Law for a Changing America: Institutional Powers and Constraints, 9th edition. One reading comes from the forthcoming 10th edition of the book. Click on the link below (II.B.1) to access the reading.

If you're interested in reading cases discussed but not excerpted in the book, check out the Constitutional Law for a Changing America Case Archive at: https://edge.sagepub.com/conlaw. For supplemental readings on any of the cases or topics we cover, please feel free to email me at epstein@wustl.edu

Finally, the dates in parentheses following each topic are approximate. We'll try to stick to the schedule but departures may occur. At the end of each class I'll announce the readings for the next session.

Part One. Introductory Material
(January 14-January 23)

I. The U.S. Constitution and the Supreme Court (pp. 3-42)

A. The Constitution and Its Key Features

B. The American Legal System

  1. Structure
  2. Supreme Court Procedures

C. Approaches to Constitutional Interpretation

D. Reading and Briefing Cases

Part Two. The Distribution of Power Among the Branches of the Federal Government

II. The Judiciary (January 28-February 6)

A. Judicial Review (pp. 61-76). Marbury v. Madison (1803), Martin v. Hunter's Lessee (1816)

B. Constraints on Judicial Power

  1. Jurisdiction: Read this material from the forthcoming 10th ed. of the book (pp. 83-91). Covers Ex parte McCardle (1869), Patchak v. Zinke (2018)
  2. Justiciability (pp. 90-94, 102-106). Nixon v. United States (1993)
  3. Standing to Sue (pp. 107-108)

III. The Legislature (February 6-February 18)

A. Membership in Congress (pp. 125-131). Powell v. McCormack (1969)

B. The Sources and Scope of Congressional Power

  1. Enumerated Powers
  2. Implied Powers (pp. 144-154). McCulloch v. Maryland (1819)


IV. The Executive (February 18-March 4)

A. Debates over Executive Power (pp. 196-204). In re Neagle (1890)

B. Domestic Powers of the President

  1. Veto Power (pp. 206-210). Clinton v. United States (1998)
  2. Appointments (pp. 212- 219) and Removals (pp. 228-237). Morrison v. Olson (1988), Myers v. United States (1926), Humphrey's Executor v. United States (1935)
  3. Executive Privilege (pp. 238-243). United States v. Nixon (1974)
  4. Presidential Immunity (pp. 243-256). Mississippi v. Johnson (1867), Nixon v. Fitzgerald (1982), Clinton v. Jones (1997)
  5. The Power to Pardon (pp. 256-262). Ex parte Grossman (1925), Murphy v. Ford (1975)
C. Foreign Affairs (we'll discuss later, under V.B)

[The Midterm Examination is on March 6]
[Spring Break: March 11, March 13]

V. Inter-Branch Interactions (March 18-April 1)

A. Domestic Disputes

  1. The Delegation of Legislative Powers (pp. 269-278). Mistretta v. United States (1989)
  2. Legislative Veto (pp. 278-284). INS v. Chadha (1983)

B. Foreign Affairs and War (pp. 289-291, 310-328). Youngstown Sheet & Tube Co. v. Sawyer (1952), Dames & Moore v. Regan (1981), Zivotofsky v. Kerry, Secretary of State (2015)

Part Three. An Introduction to Nation-State Relations
(April 1-April 24)

VI. Federalism: Some Introductory Notes (pp. 349-355). McCulloch v. Maryland (1819)

VII. The Commerce Power

A. Foundations of Commerce Power (pp. 415-422). Gibbons v. Ogden (1824)

B. The Commerce Power before the New Deal Confrontation (pp. 432-438). Champion v. Ames (1903), Hammer v. Dagenhart (1918)

C. Modern Commerce Clause Doctrine I (pp. 463-466). Wickard v. Filburn (1942)

D. Modern Commerce Clause Doctrine II. United States v. Lopez (1995) (pp. 472-478), Gonzales v. Raich (2005) (pp. 486-491), NFIB v. Sebelius (2012) (pp. 491-500)

[The Final Examination is on Monday, May 6, 3:30-5:30 pm]