in American Politics
Hours: Tuesday 4:30-5:30 and by appt.
Office: Gowen 114
Why do the unelected
justices on the Supreme Court seem to make so much public policy in the
United States? How did the Supreme Court
authoritative interpreter of the Constitution for American society? Why do actors in other branches (and ordinary
citizens) allow the Court to play such an important role in American
politics? How do Supreme Court justices
interpret the Constitution? Can the
Court protect the rights of minorities in the face of majority
opposition? How can students and other
an accurate understanding of the Court?
These are some of the important questions addressed in this
parts. The first part is a case study of
a single Supreme Court case that introduces the major themes of the
Course. Part Two looks at the structure
of the court system and the processes that bring issues before the
Court. Part Three looks at how judges
decide cases and whether judges’ choices and decisions are (or should
influenced by political factors. Part Four looks at some historical
order to illustrate the role of the court in constitutional development
change. Part Five looks at how the
Supreme Court interacts with other political institutions.
substantively at the Supreme Court, the course will also focus on
about research methodology. Through
readings and other assignments, students will be encouraged to think
scholars learn things about the Court, develop evidence to support
and empirical claims about the Court, and present their findings to
scholars and broader audiences. The
course thus tries to inform students about the process of academic
and aims to make students into more discriminating consumers of
textbook for the
course is: Lawrence Baum, The
Supreme Court, 10th Edition.
the readings for the
course are not in the textbook. Many are
available on the internet to registered UW students through the UW
library website. You will need to find and
readings in order to read them. They are
indicated on the syllabus as WWW. Some
readings are in a coursepack
of photocopied material that will be available later in the quarter at
Ram’s Copy Center, 4144 University Way N.E. (206)
632-6650. The coursepack readings
are indicated on the
syllabus as COURSEPACK. Some
readings will be sent by email
as .pdf files before the relevant class meeting. Those
are indicated as EMAIL on the syllabus.
Grading for the course will be based on two exams, a
and related short paper, and participation in class discussions.
20% Final Draft
due March 4
25% February 3
33% March 15,
Grading for all assignments will be on a 100-point scale
with 60 points
the lowest passing grade. There is a
chart explaining how the points between 60 and 100 correspond to the UW
grade scale at: http://courses.washington.edu/pols462/gradesys.doc.
grade will be based on preparedness for class, attentiveness,
contributions to class discussion, and performance on any quizzes. You must do the readings in order to
participate effectively in class. Much
of the class time will be spent in a seminar format.
This means that the professor’s role is to
facilitate discussion rather than present information through lectures. I will work to ensure that everyone
participates in the discussion on a regular basis.
It is particularly important to be attentive during class
presentations by other students.
There will be
important announcements in class about assignments, course material,
procedures. You are responsible for any
information announced in class even if you miss class.
Please do not use a
computer or phone during class time on days when you choose to come to
Class Presentation. 10%. Each
student will do one class presentation during the term.
The presentation should take about 5 minutes
with a few additional minutes for questions from the class.
Your grade will reflect the overall effectiveness of your
presentation. An effective presentation
will follow instructions and be clear and well organized.
It will also engage the audience of students,
keep their attention, and generate questions or comments from the
The dates for the presentations will be assigned during the
first week of class. There will be
options for the type of presentation.
You will choose one of the options as you sign up for the date
Option One: Cited Source
option, you need to find, read, and present an outside academic article
that is cited in the assigned readings for the day of your presentation. In your presentation, you should explain why
the assigned author cited the source and whether the source actually
the assigned author claims. You should
then provide the class with an overview of the assigned source. Your overview should do the following
things: 1) You should say precisely what
it is that the outside author is trying to accomplish.
What question is the outside author trying to
answer? What are the outside author’s
argument and conclusions? 2) You should
explain the evidence that the outside author presents. 3)
should offer some analysis of whether
the outside author is successful in developing and supporting his or
source that you use has to be an academic source. If
is an article, it must be from an
academic journal or law review. (These
types of publications will be discussed and explained in class.) You cannot use an article from a newspaper,
newsmagazine, or other non-academic source.
If you use a book, it should be written by an academic, not a
or television personality. The source
should also be something that presents an argument or tries to develop
a theory with evidence. Do not use a
database or data source. Sources
present evidence (as opposed to making a theoretical, moral, or
argument) are much better candidates for good presentations. The article or book you choose to focus on
cannot be one of the assigned readings for this course.
on this assignment will depend on making a good choice about which
present. It is a good idea to look at
several cited sources before deciding which one will be a good subject
interesting presentation. It is also a
good idea to ask me in advance whether the source you are considering
to produce a good presentation. You
should ask me ahead of time if you have any questions about the
of a source.
Option Two: Obscure Supreme
Court Case Presentation.
For this option, the subject of
your presentation will be one case that the Supreme Court selected for
argument during the 2010-2011 term. Your
case will be assigned by the instructor.
The cases will be ones that have NOT attracted a lot of national
attention. The purpose of this
assignment is to give the class a better understanding of the Supreme
workload than is available in standard news coverage.
for the presentation, you should look for information about the case on
Supreme Court’s webpage and Lexis. If
the Supreme Court has already decided the case, you should look at and
on the Court’s decision. Another very
good source of information will be the lower court decision that the
Court is reviewing. You may also be able
to find some news coverage in local news or legal news sources (through
Lexis-Nexis), depending on the case. You
may also be able to find information on legal blogs and other internet
However, be very careful that the information you find that way is
In the presentation, you should
explain to the class the basic facts of the case and the legal
the Supreme Court is addressing. You
might also want to briefly note your views on the importance and
of the case.
Paper 20%. Your
research paper will be on a
topic of your choosing related to the course.
You need to develop your topic in consultation with the
get approval for your topic. Once you
have your topic, you will need to write a paper that reviews four
articles or books that address your topic and that are not on the
syllabus. (If you want to use a source
that was the
subject of your class presentation, you need to add one extra source,
five total sources.) The sources you
review have to address your topic empirically, i.e., by presenting
evidence. Your paper should be about 10
There will be additional information presented in class
regarding what kinds of topics and what kinds of sources are
appropriate. A handout on this assignment
available on the course webpage after the first week of class.
As part of this assignment, you need to meet the following
deadlines for communicating your intentions for the paper and getting
for your topic and sources.
Jan 27, 2:30 PM. Submit a topic proposal to Professor
Feb 21. 10 A.M.
Submit an annotated list of sources you
will use in your paper.
March 4. 4 P.M.
Submit the Final Draft of the Paper.
You must turn in a hard copy to Professor Lovell and also email
as an MSword or .pdf document.
Your paper must be
typed, double-spaced, and carefully proofread.
Careful and precise writing is essential to getting a good grade
assignment. Points will be taken off for
any spelling or grammatical errors and for problems with clarity and
Exams. 25% and 33%.
There will be a midterm and a final exam.
The exams will test your knowledge of the
assigned readings and class discussions through short answer and short
questions. The midterm exam will be
in-class and closed books/closed-notes.
The format for the final will be
determined and announced later in the quarter.
My office hours and e-mail address are listed
at the top of this syllabus. I strongly
encourage you to take advantage of my office hours.
I am also available by appointment. The
way to reach me is always by email.
Conduct. I will enforce the
University of Washington’s Student Conduct code, including the policy
plagiarism. The code can be found at: http://apps.leg.wa.gov/WAC/default.aspx?cite=478-120
Late Paper Policy.
It is very important that
you complete assignments on time. If you
have a health problem or other emergency that will prevent you from
assignment deadlines, you need to contact me as soon as possible by
make suitable arrangements regarding the assignment.
If an agreement cannot be reached ahead of
time, the penalty for late papers and presentations is 10 points (on
point scale) per calendar day.
Course Webpage: The
webpage for the course is: http://courses.washington.edu/pols462/. The webpage will have
information about the course and assignments and links to other
Disabled Students. If you would
like to request accommodations
due to a disability, please contact Disabled Student Services, 448
Hall, 543-8924 (V/TDD). If you have a
from Disabled Student Services indicating you require accommodations,
present the letter to me as soon as possible so that I can make
be completed before
the corresponding class meeting on the schedule.
ONE: Introduction to the Course and the
Jan 4: Introduction
Jan 6: Screws v United States. Instructions on how to find this reading will
be given on the first day of class.
Jan 11 Reading
Assignment Announced on January 6.
PART TWO: Court Procedures and
Jan 13 Baum chapters 1 and
Jan 18 Baum chapters 2
PART THREE: Judicial Decision
Making and the Counter
Jan 20 William H.
“The Notion of a Living Constitution”
Harvard Journal of
29 401-415 (2006) WWW
Sanford Levinson, “On Interpretation: The Adultery Clause
of the Ten Command
California Law Review 58:
719-724 (1985) WWW
Board of Education 347 U.S. 483 (1954) WWW
Jan 25 Baum chapter 4
Jan 27 Walter
Murphy, “Marshalling the Court”, from Elements
of Judicial Strategy
Feb 1 Lee Epstein and Thomas G. Walker, “The Role of the
Supreme Court in American
Playing the Reconstruction Game” in Contemplating
Mark Graber, “Legal, Strategic,
Legal Strategy” In Kahn and Kersch. The
Supreme Court and American Political
Development, University Press of
Policy, or Duty: Why does the Supreme
American Political Science
Review 101:321-38 (2007).WWW
Feb 3: Midterm Exam
Feb 8: Keith Bybee,
“Legal Realism, Common Courtesy, and Hypocrisy” Law, Culture and
the Humanities I: 75-102 (2005).
PART FOUR: The Supreme Court
Feb 10 Mark A.
Graber, “The Problematic Establishment of Judicial Review” in Gillman
Clayton, The Supreme Court and American
Politics, University Press of
and Jack Knight, “On the Struggle for Judicial Supremacy” Law
Society Review 36:87-120 (1996).
Feb 15 Pamela Brandwein, “A Judicial
Abandonment of Blacks? Rethinking
Cases of the Waite Court” Law and Society
Review 41:343-386 (2007) WWW
PART FIVE: The Place
of the Court in the Political System
Feb 17 Robert
“Decision Making in a Democracy”, Journal of Public
Spann, Race Against the Court,
chapters 7 and 9. COURSEPACK
Marc J. Hetherington and
Joseph L. Smith,
“Issue Preferences and Evaluations of
Supreme Court” Public Opinion
Feb 22 Mark
Difficulty” 7 Studies
in American Political Development (1993).
Feb 24 Duplex
Printing Press Co. v Deering (254 U.S. 443, 1921) WWW
Mar 1 George I.
Lovell “Killing with Kindness” from Legislative
Press (2004). EMAIL
Mar 3 Baum
Gerald N. Rosenberg, “Bound for Glory: Brown
the Civil Rights Revolution”
The Hollow Hope, University of
Chicago Press (1991). COURSEPACK
Mar 8 Howard
Gillman, “How Political Parties Use the Courts to Advance Their
511-524 (2002) WWW
Scott E. Lemieux and
George I. Lovell,
“Understanding the Impact and Visibility
Ideological Change on the Supreme Court.”
Studies in Law, Politics, and
Mar 10 Susan Burgess “Did the Supreme Court Come Out in Bush v.
Gore? Queer Theory
on the Performance of the Politics
of Shame.” Differences 16: 126-46 (2005) WWW
Final Exam: March 15, 4:30-6:20