Our Evolving United States Constitution
Spring, 2011  
Instructor: Jim Bolner, Sr.

We will examine the United States Constitution as a legal and political document and as a body of political understanding. Our focus will be how the Constitution has evolved through adaptation and interpretation at the hands of public opinion, the judiciary, legislative and executive bodies, and interest groups.
Time and Dates:
9:3011:30 a.m. - Mondays, January 24, 31; February 7, 14, 21, 28

Outline

I. Historical Background
    - The Declaration of Independence (1776)
    - The First Constitution - The Articles of Confederation
    - The Framers of 1787: Their Intentions, Values, and Motives
    - The 1787 Constitutional Convention
    - Ratification of the Constitution
    - Amendments to the Constitution

II. The Constitution as Text and as a Body of Understandings
    - Separation of Powers, Judicial Review, Federalism
    - Strict Construction - "Originalism"
    - Loose Construction - "Adaptation"
    - Whose Girlfriend Is Being Insulted?
    - Evolution Through Constitutional Amendments

III. Judicial Landmarks of Constitutional Interpretation
    - Marbury v. Madison (1803)
    - McCulloch v. Maryland (1819)
    - Gibbons v. Ogden (1824)
    - Brown v. Board of Education (1954)
    - Bush v. Gore (2000)

IV. Congressional and Presidential Landmarks of Constitutional Interpretation
    - The Louisiana Purchase
    - The Interstate Commerce Commission
    - The Social Security Act

V. The Nature of Constitutional Evolution
     - Pragmatism
     - Materialism
     - Individualism

VI. The Constitution of the Future
      - An Amendable Constitution
      - An Internationl Constitution
      - A Controversial Constitution

 

Online Resources

This Handout - http://bodoc.net/lag/y1102lagconst/index.htm

The Framers or Founding Fathers (National Archives)

The United States Constitution (Findlaw)

The United States Constiution (Cornell)

The United States Constitution Annotated

The United States Constitution

The Avalon Project - Major Document Collections

The Debates Over Ratification of the Constitution (Elliot's Debates)

Ratification Dates and Votes

Unratified Constitutional Amendments and
Analysis of the Unratified Amendments

Editorial - Baton Rouge Morning Advocate  - October  , 2010 and
Response to the Editorial

Justices Bryer and Scalia Debate Constitutional Interpretation - November 12, 2010

The United States Supreme Court - Official Site

Laws Held Unconstitutional in Whole or in Part by the United States
Supreme Court - [total: 159 as of 2011]
 - State and Local Laws Held Unconstitutional
[total: 224, to 2002]


Justices of the United States Supreme Court - Nominations - [from U.S. Senate]

Jill Lepore, "The Commandments:The Constitution and Its Worshippers," The New Yorker,
January 17, 2001.


Pauline Maier, Ratification: The People Debate the Constitution, 1787-1788 (Simon and
Schuster, 2010 [Available online through chapter 5.]

The Constitution Project

The Constitution Center

The Constitutional Convention Timeline

Wickard v. Filburn (1942) - Explaining Congress' Power to Regulate Commerce
 --Summary of the Court's Ruling

United States v. Lopez (1995) - Explaining Limits on Congress' Commerce Power
 --Summary of the Court's Ruling

Citizens United v. FEC (2009) - The Court Rules in Favor of Corporate Free Speech 
 --Long Summary of the Court's Ruling

Constitutional Evolution Today (Well, Yesterday) - Statutory Interpretation and Constitutional
Developments - PBS Evening News -February 22, 2011

The Obama Administration's Letter to Congress Declaring that the Administration
Will Not Defend the Defense of Marriage Act - February 23, 2011


A Century of Lawmaking for a New Nation - U.S. Congressional Documents and
Debates, 1774-1875


Charlie Rose Interview With David Boies - PBS - Video - June 3, 2009

Nina Totenberg Interview With Ted Olson - NPR - Audio - December 6, 2010




Contact Information

Jim Bolner, Sr.
2424 Dawson's Creek Lane
Baton Rouge, LA 70808-0114
766.5987 -
jimbolnersr@cox.net

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