American Legal System | Outline

Final Assessment Info:

Extra Credit Reflection Essay


For extra credit, due at the final exam: Thursday June 6 at 3:00 PM in E321


Write a three to five page reflection essay showing evidence of how you learned the following:


  1. Demonstrate an understanding of how the processes, principles, and structure of governments and political institutions affect individuals in society.


  1. Examines the importance of key historical struggles and social movements that sought/seek to encourage change.


  1. Comprehend the methods of inquiry within Political Science and Law and Society.


For full credit you must refer to course materials and discussions in class.




“A” answers are those that begin the analysis of the fact pattern by applying the United States Constitution as a structural document and then move to the Amendments to the Constitution to show freedom from arbitrary and capricious government action. This student will state a legal position, not a political position, and rely on Case Law to support their decision. The student will refer to the fact pattern and apply their legal position to the facts in a consistent and logical manner. Finally this student will analyze the consequences of their decision on the wider society and on the law as it relates to future potential cases.


“B” answers are those that vaguely refer to the United States Constitution and Amendments in a way that shows an understanding of the myth of rights and the duality of politics and law. These students will tend to rely on Case Law to make their argument for them and will not be able to give a clear legal position. They will use the facts to show how Case Law is similar or different and will circle back to the Constitution and Amendments.  Finally they will identify the potential consequences of their decision.


“C” answers are those that struggle to make a Constitutional argument but evidence an incomplete understanding of the structural-historical framework of judicial decision-making. This student will evidence a struggle in their critical thinking between how Case Law affects Judicial Opinions and how Case Law affects politics and society. Finally this student will apply the facts in a way that evidences a tendency toward potential consequences of their decision but does so in a vague or unclear manner.


“D” answers are those that fail to evidence an understanding of the Constitution and Amendments as a historical-structural framework and instead engage in a political debate about the consequences of their decision as it relates to the facts or larger policy implications. This student make struggle to begin evidencing critical thinking and instead is still trying to make sense of previous beliefs that are not grounded in empirical research. This student is not able to evidence college level thinking or learning of new material and tends to refer to the news, opinions, abstract forms of bias, and other non-academic points of view.


“F” answers fail to follow directions and apply no evidence of learning class content. This student might be quite knowledgeable about other classes but fails to show growth in learning new material for a variety of reasons. This grade indicates the student needs to take this class again in order to move forward with their education or consider a different path.




Week 1
Getting to know everyone
1 Page Essay: What is Law – due Thursday
Group Share

Week 2
Continued conversation
Lecture: LSA + PlebLex (link to youtube by clicking here)

and click here for Read Aloud Studying in Political Science
End of 2nd Week Diagnostic
Reading Comp
Logical Reasoning
Critical Analysis

Week 3
PowerPoint: Example SLO Finding Luis, Divided Powers, LSA
Big Idea: Judges and Interpretation (exegesis)

Click here for handout

Week 4

Monday: In Class Activity: Legal Research Overview

Google Scholar tutorial click here

JStor tutorial click here

Thursday: Instead of Quiz; Research Question Groups

Week 5
Activity: Using Google Scholar, Immigration and Human Rights Pre-1920s.

Research Groups and Research Questions: Click here

Research Document: Click here

Begin Google Scholar
Immigration/Human Rights Pre-20s
Big Idea: Process of Court Rulings; Stare Decisis

Big Idea: SCOTUS/Circuit Courts/State Courts/Appeals

Week 6

Continued – Google Scholar Pre-1920s.

Week 7

Midterm Prep: Click here

Reading: Gitlow v. People of New York Click here for case in PDF

Click here for a video

Discussion: Legal Philosophy, Post Natural Law, Legal Realism, Positivism: Immigration and Human Rights 1920-1999.
continued 20s-90s
Big Idea: Philosophies of Law

Begin again April 29

Week 8


Click here for Midterm Hypo

Week 9

Discussion Activity: Legal Philosophy, Critical Legal Studies, Law and Society: Emerging
Big Idea: Logical Reasoning

Review Final Case Materials for Opinion Writing

#’s on Kids via Media: Click here

#’s on Kids via NGO: Click here

Department of Homeland Security #’s just on forced migrants: Click Here

Week 10
Draft Opinion Writing Workshop

Click here for Final Exam Judicial Opinion Template and Facts

Week 11
Review Opinion: Analysis, one the one hand, on the other hand, I think in Groups or pairs.

Week 12
Opinion: Proposal Section Discussion

Week 13
Extra Credit: Asylum NY Proposal

Please see me if you are interested.

Final Exam:
Analyze the following Case File and Write your Judicial Opinion
Enforcement of International Human Rights Law: death of GUA children

Click here for final exam facts and template for Opinion

Suit Basics: