PSC 234 Law and Politics in the U.S.

Political Science Field: American Politics
Typically offered every year

Maya Sen
Fall 2014 — M 14:00-16:40

How does the Supreme Court really decide cases? Are judges as activist as politicians claim? In this course, we will explore these questions by addressing how political and social forces influence American law and legal institutions, and vice versa. We'll divide the course into roughly two parts: (1) judicial politics and decision making and (2) law and its relation to the rest of society. Taking examples from the Civil Rights movement as well as from today's headlines, we'll develop a solid understanding of how the American legal system works, the basics of legal reasoning, and why judges are sometimes accused simply of being politicians.

Maya Sen
Fall 2013 — TR 11:05-12:20

Course Syllabus

How does the Supreme Court really decide cases? Are judges as activist as politicians claim? In this course, we will explore these questions by addressing how political and social forces influence American law and legal institutions, and vice versa. We'll divide the course into roughly two parts: (1) judicial politics and decision making and (2) law and its relation to the rest of society. Taking examples from the Civil Rights movement as well as from today's headlines, we'll develop a solid understanding of how the American legal system works, the basics of legal reasoning, and why judges are sometimes accused simply of being politicians.

Maya Sen
Fall 2012 — TR 11:05-12:20

Course Syllabus

How does the Supreme Court really decide cases? Are judges as activist as politicians claim? In this course, we will explore these questions by addressing how political and social forces influence American law and legal institutions, and vice versa. We will explore in depth how the legal system operates and how judges actually decide cases, using examples taken from today's headlines. We will also explore contemporary controversies surrounding the courts, including the influence of politics in judicial decision making and the possible role that race plays in criminal trials. Other topics include the structure of the legal system, the importance of judicial precedent, litigation and trial processes, and effectiveness of the law as a force for social change.