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Political Science 6600

Constitutional Law with Jason M. Leggett, J.D.     jasonmleggettkbcc@gmail.com.     jleggett.commons.gc.cuny.edu

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Learning Outcomes

66 (Constitutional Law): Students will need to become familiar with: 1) Cases as Law; 2) Judicial interpretation (exegesis) and the relationship with Politics; 3) The inter-relationship of identity, agency, and the democratic practice of advocacy.

Overview and Rules of the Game.

I designed this semester to adapt to the new reality of working online instead of in person. This means we will not go in order of the Reader (Law and Identity) and you will have choices about which readings you will complete. For a more detailed explanation click here.


This is NOT a read and take a multiple choice kind of class. This is a critical thinking and civically engaged class. If this is not interesting to you or you do not want to complete rigorous college work you should talk to your advisor and register for a different teacher. While the overwhelming number of students over the last 10 years have expressed appreciation for the structured learning opportunities I design, some have found this class to not be a good match for them. In general, I will work with you to deal with most of the obstacles you encounter; however, I cannot tolerate disrespectful behavior and will immediately forward your information to relevant school officials.

Grading will be based on a number of assignments and will be measured in part on how you develop over the course of the semester.

Part 1 Responses. 10 points.

Participation in Zoom Discussions or 1 page write ups to make up for scheduled zoom meetings. 10 points.

Reading Group Assignments and Application of Course Materials and Outside Research on Midterm Examination Long Term Answer. 20 points.

Judicial Opinion Writing Assignment. 30 points.

Assignments and Activities. 10-40 points. See rubric.

Final Exam. 40 points.

Extra Credit Work. You must email or zoom with me to discuss the extra credit work before you complete it and get my permission.

Total Points Possible: 150 = A+

“Suggested” Pre-Requisite: Pol 51 and Soc 31.

There are no formal requirements for Justice Academy and Liberal Arts students as to pre-requisites although students who have a strong foundation in American Government, State Government, and Sociology will already be familiar with much of the course content. If you have not taken these courses yet or have time to review some big principles before the course begins (or during the course if you so desire) I have prepared resources that you can access on the Student Resources page (click here). I will also include some background teaching information throughout the course on these major principles listed below:

Structures of Modernism: Enlightenment (Truth through Reason; Agora for Dialogue): Legislature not Monarchy; Self-Rule, Reliance, Freedom not Dependency and Servitude. Interpretation, Norms, and Exegesis: an Independent Judiciary as Par Excellence of Enlightenment. Leviathan, Devil we Know-Limits on the Abuse of Power, Federalism, and The Presidency.

Sociological Investigations: Institutions, Ideology, Instrumentalities. Social Construction. Norms, Rules, and Wonderlands. Deconstruction of Modernism.

Legal Change: A synthesis of a 3rd way. Beyond duality.

Anatomy of the Course: Course Outline

The Course is organized into three parts with grading after each part: 1) Cases as Law; 2) Judicial Interpretation as Law, Exegesis, Politics; 3)The inter-relationship of identity, agency, and the democratic practice of advocacy.

Diagnostic 1.  Click here to take Diagnostic 1.

Diagnostic 2.  Click here to take Diagnostic 2.

Attendance Verification. You must complete Diagnostic 1 and 2 by SEPT 28th  . Failure to complete these assignments will result in you being dropped from the course.

PART ONE (Weeks 1-4). September 12th – October 10th.


Cases as Law

In Part One you will need to think about an “injustice group” that is important or interesting for you to learn more about. You may review the options in Table 1 below before you decide. Links to resources for learning follow the table.


Table 1. Injustice Group Learning Opportunities for Research in Law and Society

Race Gender Ethnic Poverty
Atlantic Slave Trade Robert Mapplethorpe, Raven & Hetero-Normativity Constitution and a Clash of the Civilizations Education & bell hooks
American Indian Quasi-Sovereignty Miller v. California Quest for Legal Sovereignty War and Poverty: In Those Years
Constitution & James Wilson/George Mason/John Adams Ginsberg’s Clerks Who Are We? If the War Goes On
Scott v. Sandford & Frederick Douglass Planned Parenthood v. Casey Imagined Communities Remix & Private Property Law
Plessy v. Ferguson & MLK Why We Can’t Wait Carhart Cases Beyond the Law Politics of Land Reform
Patricia Hill Collins Judith Butler Declaration of Human Rights & Eleanor Roosevelt Banking Law
Brown v. Board of Education Doll Studies Ecological Epistemology of Gender Migration Law Human Rights Law
Racial Politics, Policing, Corrections, and the History of Criminal Justice Barnard @ Columbia Lectures: Notes Finding Luis Lecture Where I Come From Lecture

Injustice Group Resources

You must pick one reading group from the options below. The resources for your initial research can be found by clicking the relevant link below and our Course Reader: Law and Identity.

Racism. If you are intersted in Racism as a legal injustice: click here for resources.

Gender. If you are interested in Gender as a legal injustice: click here for resources.

Ethnic. If you are intersted in Ethnic/Citizenship as a legal injustice: click here for resources.

Poverty. If you are interested in Poverty as a legal injustice: click here for resources.

Check in – Please tell me which injustice group you are working on by clicking here.

Part one Assessment (Grading): By the end of Part 1 you should be able to:

Grading for Part 1 will be based on your responses (click here on October 1) to the questions below. You must wait until October 1 to record your responses. I will provide a grade on Blackboard by October 15th. 10 points.

1. How do legal cases apply to injustice in American Society?

2. What do you remember best about the resources you reviewed?

3. What is power? How does your idea of power apply to the resources your reviewed?

4. What is law? How does your idea of law apply to the resources you reviewed?

5. Where can we look to see power? Where can we look to see law?

6. What interests you about law? What interests you about power?

7. How can you move beyond your own opinion? Think about what kind of data you might want to consider – statistics, surveys, observations, laboratory studies, judicial decisions, scholarly commentary.

PART TWO (Weeks 5-9). October 11th – November 14th.

Judicial Interpretation as Law, Exegesis, Politics

Read the Following in the Law and Identity Reader.

Declaration of Independence & Lincoln’s Portrait
Behavioral Theory of Organizations
Marbury v. Madison
Federalist Paper 47
Originalism, the Lesser Evil

Zoom Class Discussions about Readings.  10 points.

Midterm Examination. Long Answer. You must apply the readings from the Law and Identity Reader. 20 points.

Prepare for Major Assignment: Judicial Opinion Assignment. 30 points. 


Judicial Opinion Assignment Due: Review the CASE HYPOTHETICAL and WRITE A JUDICIAL OPINION. Instructions are in the Video Lecture: Overview of Judicial Interpretation.


EXTRA CREDIT Lecture Responses: LECTURE: LAW & SOCIETY – Politics of Legal Exclusion, Consciousness, Social Change (Identity, Agency, Advocacy). 10 points.

Part two Assessment (Grading): By the end of Part 2 you should be able to:

Apply legal reasoning (abduction) to specific cases of injustice using relevant case law and constitutional interpretation. Review the following Rubric (click here) to prepare for the final assessment.

PART THREE (Weeks 10 – End) November 15th – End of Semester.

3. The inter-relationship of identity, agency, and the democratic practice of advocacy.

LECTURE: What was the Enlightenment? Legal Theory, Foucault, Butler and the Journey from Modernism to Post-Modernism.


LECTURE: Structural Historical Analysis: Understanding the Progression of Social History – Why a Legislature and Not a Monarchy – or a terrible mistake: apology letter of dependence?

ACTIVITY: Freedom, not Dependency, Servile Mind. 10 points.

ASSIGNMENT: SURVEY (10, 20, 30): Write a Law, Collect Interpretations, Create Categories based on common societal norms in media. 10-30 points.

LECTURE: Exegesis, Social Construction of Identity, Structural Agency, and the Decision Making Apparatus of Advocacy — a brief history of an independent judiciary as Par Excellence of Enlightenment, res ipsa loquitur.

EXTRA CREDIT/HONORS ENRICHMENT: PRESIDENTIAL ELECTION, Federalism, the Devil we Know, and the Presidency of the Leviathan.

A Framework for your Final Exam Analysis: Institutions, Ideology, Instrumentalities, and Social Construction.
Repeated Fact Pattern to Analyze (3-4 times throughout): Norms, Rules, and Wonderlands. To view and download, click here. For the video click here.

Reflection: Deconstruction of Modernism and the Excavation of Power 1. To complete this Google Form, click here.

EXTRA CREDIT/HONORS ENRICHMENT: Legal Change – a synthesis of a 3rd Way – Beyond Duality or counting past 2…maybe up to 9.


Part 3 Assessment Final Exam. To take the final exam click here on December xx.