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Three CreditsJody Prescott, adjunct professor802.399.8613, jody.prescott@uvm.edu or jmprescott01@aol.comJune 17 – July 11, 2012; Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Thursdays, 5:00-8:45 PMRm. 534, Old Mill
I. Overview
Course Description:
Constitutional Law: Civil Liberties
examines what I believe is the mostinteresting part of the Constitution: the Bill of Rights and subsequent amendments dealing withpersonal freedoms and rights. Using discussion and analysis of landmark U.S. Supreme Courtcases in particular, this course will cover the freedom of expression and religion, criminal lawprotections, rights of privacy and equal protection, and the right to bear arms. This course isparticularly suited to the non political science major who is interested in knowing more abouthow civil liberties are protected in our system of government, but who may not have abackground in political science or law classes.
Using lecture only to set the basis for discussion and analysis of the cases we study, mygoal is for all students to contribute to the discussion of our essential constitutional rights,confident that everyone’s opinions and beliefs will be both respected and used as a springboardfor gaining a deeper understanding of how constitutional questions are decided. If you are awareof a particular case that you believe is in our interest to discuss, but it is not in the readings,please bring it to my attention.
Learning Outcomes:
Above just awareness of the constitutional foundations of the rights weenjoy as U.S. citizens and residents, I intent for you after this class is that you be able to applycompeting schools of constitutional thought and theory in analysis of cases, and how to criticallyisolate the relevant facts and issues for use in this analysis.
II. General Course Information
Course Policies:
I expect students to come to class prepared to discuss the readings and caseslisted in the outline below, and to participate regularly in class discussions on the assignedreadings. The class will not work without this level of engagement on your part.
Attendance Expectations:
I expect regular attendance and thoughtful participation in classfrom each of you. I will take attendance at the beginning of each nightly session. Missing oneevening of class is equivalent to missing almost four days in a regular semester course. Someabsences are unavoidable, because emergencies always come up that you must handle. Becauseof the pace of the class, there really is no way to make up missed classes and the discussion thatwent on in them. If you must miss class, please notify me in advance.
Contributions in Class:
Constitutional civil liberties often feature in controversial political andsocial issues. In the classroom, they lend themselves to interesting discussion that often makesus view our beliefs and preconceptions from a different perspective, even if we don’t agree with
2it. This is not a course geared solely to the delivery of lecture, nor is it a law school course. Youmust do the readings and analyze the cases before class to fuel the discussion in the classroom –students must engage and share their opinions, and respect the opinions of others even as theyseek to explain why those opinions may have flawed premises or gaps in logic. Disagreementwith other’s opinions can be expressed civilly, and discussions about sensitive topics can beconducted frankly but clinically.
Academic Honesty & Professionalism:
I expect you to do your own work on all assignmentsin this class. You may wish to form study groups, which are of course completely proper. Pleasesee the official university policy athttp://www.uvm.edu/~uvmppg/student/acadintegrity.pdf .You will write your answers to the exams in exam booklets. The use of computers to composeyour answers to exam questions will not be allowed, unless you have a special requirementwhich you must apprise me of in advance.
Required Readings:
The course textbook is A
II,Stephens & Scheb (2012). It may be purchased as an e-book, if you wish explore theCourseSmart site http://www.coursesmart.com/IR/2545002/9780205695379?__hdv=6.7. I amnot endorsing this company’s site – it is just an option that might save you some money. Therewill be a few readings available through Blackboard, particularly very recent cases.
Electronic Submissions/Internet Use:
Students may of course take notes on their computers.The majority of the class time will be spent discussing the readings and in particular analyzingthe cases. Thus, there will be no need for use of the Internet in class, although Internet sourcesmay provide useful information to supplement and amplify students’ understanding of thereadings.
Student Evaluation & Assessment; Scoring Rubrics, and Percentage Contribution of EachAssignment:
Because of the pace of the course, there will only be two graded events, a one andone-half hour midterm exam at the end of the second week of class, and a cumulative three-hourfinal exam given at the end of the course. Each exam will have a multiple choice portion worth30 percent of the exam grade, and an essay section worth 70 percent. The midterm exam will beworth 30 percent of the class grade, and the final worth 60 percent. The multiple choicequestions will assess your understanding of the readings. The essay portions will test your abilityto quickly conduct concise and accurate constitutional analysis, learned through discussion inclass. Exam make-ups are rarely given, and will be at my discretion and convenience.
The grading of the multiple choice portions of the exams will be objective, there willonly be one correct answer. The grading of the essay portions will focus on the quality of yourwriting, the clarity of your logic, and the accuracy of your analysis. Class participation will countfor 10 percent of the class grade, and will be based on your contributions to class discussion. An“A” grade given on any assignment or as a final cumulative grade signifies “excellent” work (reserved for those students who have not only demonstrated an excellent understanding of thecourse material, but who have also shown an excellent ability to analyze the material); a “B”signifies “good” work (a “good” understanding of and ability to analyze the material); a “C”signifies “satisfactory” work (a “satisfactory” understanding of an ability to analyze thematerial); a “D” signifies “passing” work (a marginal but adequate understanding of and ability
3to analyze the material); and an “F” signifies “failing” work (an inability to understand oranalyze the material). My experience suggests that there is at least one of you whose work willbe so markedly superior that it would deserve an “A+.” To assess this, each of the exams willinclude a question or two for extra credit that will test the true depth of your understanding of thematerial.
Format for Expected Work:
Answers to the multiple-choice questions will require the circlingof the letter that sets out the proper choice. The essays should be in the Issue, Rule, Analysis andConclusion format, which will be explained in class and used as the format for discussion andanalysis of the cases.
Classroom Protocol:
The Department of Political Science requires that this classroom protocol,defining minimum standards of conduct, be included in all syllabi of political science classes:a. I expect you to attend and be prepared for ALL regularly scheduled classes.b. I expect you to arrive on time and stay in class until the class period ends. If you know in advance that you need to leave early, I expect you to tell me before theclass period begins.c. We will all treat each other with respect. For example, unless necessary, donot disrupt class by leaving and reentering during class, do not distract us by makingnoise, and be attentive to what we are saying to each other in class.In addition to these minimum standards, if:a. You require accommodation for religious reasons, you must let me know wellin advance.b. If you have a physical or learning disability, please provide me with therelevant paperwork from the ACCESS office by the end of the second class session sothat we can discuss any relevant accommodations that need to be made. If you takeexams in the ACCESS center, you are responsible for scheduling the exam time withthe ACCESS office and you must contact me at least one week before either exam todiscuss all necessary logistics.c. Other than the use of your computer to take notes, all other electronic devicesmust be turned off and stowed away for the duration of each class session. If there is apotential acute situation that requires you to be continuously available telephonicallyduring class, please advise me beforehand.
III. Instructional Sequence:
The daily reading agenda provided below is an approximateschedule. The major requirements and assignments will be on the dates listed below. I will letyou know at the end of class each night what the readings are for the next session, and if I forget,please remind me. If you miss a class, or are for some other reason unsure of what readings youshould do for a particular class period, you should check for announcements on Blackboard orcontact me. You will be able to access the syllabus at any time from Blackboard. I willsupplement the text book readings with handouts.
June 18 – Introduction, Judicial Philosophy & Levels of Scrutiny
General Reading: 1-33Cases: Texas v. Johnson, pp. 155-56, 192-96; Ex Parte Milligan, pp. 35-38.

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