Why impose a course on constitutional law on our students?
SLevinson at law.utexas.edu
Tue Jul 10 09:47:42 PDT 2007
As everyone on this list knows (perhaps all too well), I loathe and despise the Bush Administration. That being said, a major purpose of my constitutional law course, which begins with the Philadelphians ruthless disregard of both their limited congressional mandate and, more importantly, Article XIII, is to address the central reality that many of our "greatest leaders," i.e., the ones we build monuments to, played fast and loose with what might have been thought to be the "best" understandings of the law. So any attack on Bush must take Jefferson, Lincoln, and Roosevelt (for starters) into account. Marty Ledewrman has argued very well that these presidents can be distinguished on other than straight political grounds, but the real point is that one can't have the conversation at all without immersion in the relevant history for which most Supreme Court opinions are irrelevant or simply inadequate. So what do we omit in order to address the dead presidents? My own answer, of course, is Marbury (among others). Or do we try to discuss the issues posed by the Bush Administration ahistorically (or, what is much the same thing, by perfunctory reference to a Federalist Paper or two)?
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