Why impose a course on constitutional law on our students?

Sean Wilson whoooo26505 at yahoo.com
Tue Jul 10 15:12:13 PDT 2007

I'm confused Mark. How does that book tell us how a judge will rule? Segal/Cover scores are statistically insignificant for every case the Court ever decided in the data set from 1946 through 2004. The number of votes needed to produce the R-squared in the ecological model involving only the civil liberties docket from the same time period is only about 12%. Stated another way, what is called "the attitude component" on the Court is only a marginal explanation of the choices justice make in this domain. If you take away 7 or 8 justices that pad the model and who are no longer on the Court, the PRE on the models go down in the teens.
Why not do this: assign Dworkin to undergrads and present the very same analysis in support of that theory?
Dr. Sean Wilson, Esq. 
Penn State University
Website: http://ludwig.squarespace.com/home/
SSRN papers: http://ssrn.com/author=596860
Conference papers: http://ludwig.squarespace.com/research-agenda/

----- Original Message ----
From: Mark Graber <MGRABER at gvpt.umd.edu>
To: Scott Gerber <s-gerber at onu.edu>
Cc: conlawprof at lists.ucla.edu
Sent: Tuesday, July 10, 2007 9:45:32 AM
Subject: Re: Why impose a course on constitutional law on our students?

Scott's post raises an interesting point.  Should the ideal division of
labor be as follows.  We should teach undergraduate students theories of
constitutional interpretation, not worrying at all about the extent to
which justices rely on them to make decisions.  The standard texts for
the constitutional law course, however, ought to be THE SUPREME COURT
AND THE ATTITUDINAL MODEL, as well as all the standard critiques of
Segal and Spaeth.  After all, when representing a client, it is far more
important to understand how a judge is likely to rule than how a judge
should rule.


>>> Scott Gerber <s-gerber at onu.edu> 07/10/07 9:39 AM >>>
I haven't been following these posts, but, as a law professor at a 
non-first tier school, I first try to make sure my students know what 
the "law" is (which isn't difficult to do, frankly), but also _why_ the

law is the way it is and, more importantly, what the law _should_ be. 

By _should_ be, I don't mean my policy preferences, but rather what it

_should_ be in light of the theories of constitutional interpretation 
(obviously, the answer sometimes changes depending on what theory is 


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