Constitutional Law – PLST 320

CG • Section • 01/03/2020 to 06/11/2020 • Modified 07/28/2020

Course Description

Constitutional Law analyzes contemporary issues to explore a number of key, constitutional principles, including: separation of powers; federalism; the role of the judiciary in deciding controversial social issues; the First Amendment Free Speech, Establishment Clause, and Free Exercise of Religion clauses; the Commerce Clause as it relates to nationalized health care; and parental rights with respect to education. Students will read judicial opinions each week relating to one of these topics.

Prerequisites

PLAW 205 or PLST 205

Rationale

After the founders had drafted the Constitution, Benjamin Franklin was asked by a citizen what type of government they had given the United States. He responded, “A republic, if you can keep it.” Because the American citizenry has forgotten the founding principles and fails to understand what the Constitution was designed to achieve, each branch of the national government continues to exceed the powers granted to it in the Constitution. Building on the basic constitutional principles learned in PLST 205 (Foundations of Law), this course will analyze constitutional cases to explore how the unconstitutional expansion of the national government threatens the freedoms that the Constitution was designed to protect.

Measurable Learning Outcomes

Upon successful completion of this course, the student will be able to:

  1. Identify the ways in which the judiciary exceeds its constitutional jurisdiction.
  2. Explain how Congress’ expansive reliance on the Commerce Clause is a threat to states’ rights.
  3. Explain how a misapplication of the Establishment Clause fosters hostility to the Christian worldview.
  4. Explain how a strict constructionist view of the Constitution best preserves the delicate balance of separation of powers.
  5. Explain the proper role of government with respect to issues concerning parents’ rights to direct the education and upbringing of their children.

Course Assignment

Textbook readings and lecture presentations

Course Requirements Checklist

After reading the Course Syllabus and Student Expectations, the student will complete the related checklist found in Module/Week 1.

Discussion Board Forums (4)

Discussion boards are collaborative learning experiences. Therefore, the student is required to provide a thread in response to the provided prompt for each forum. Each thread must be 250–300 words and demonstrate course-related knowledge. In addition to the thread, the student is required to reply to 2 other classmates’ threads. Each reply must be 100–150 words.

Case Analysis

The student will be provided a summary of a case (including quoted excerpts from the case) and will be asked to analyze whether the judiciary reached the right result. The student will analyze the case from the perspective of separation of powers and the proper role of the judiciary. Responses must be at least 250 words.

Short Essay Questions (2)

The student will be given 2 short essay questions to respond to. Responses must be at least 400 words each.

Quizzes (3)

There will be 3 open-book/open note quizzes with multiple-choice and true/false questions. The student will be given 1 hour and 30 minutes to complete a 30-question quiz. Quiz 1 will cover the course material from Modules/Weeks 1–3, Quiz 2 will cover the course material from Modules/Weeks 4–5, and Quiz 3 will cover the course material from Modules/Weeks 6–7.

Final Exam

The student will be given 2 hours to complete the Final Exam. The exam will be open-book/open-notes. It will contain 2 essay questions and 1 short essay answer question.