This is the classic course in Federal Courts, a study of the American two-court two-law system. It is a big-picture course, systemic and structural rather than procedural. The aim of the course is to open to students a sophisticated and penetrating understanding of the peculiarities, pathologies, and metaphysics of the two-court two-law system, and of the powers, often controversial, of the judiciary. The course in Federal Courts is generally viewed as key to a first-class practice. The structural understandings it explores, widely shared among American lawyers, are understandings essential to well-informed litigation, and for this very reason essential to well-informed counseling. It can undergird at a superior level the systemic understandings of American lawyers throughout their professional lives.
Demonstrated capability in the course is among the strongest supports of students seeking judicial clerkships, state as well as federal, and is helpful also to applicants for jobs in government and in firms with national practices. More immediately, the course lays solid ground for the major federal-law courses which prudence suggests students choose if preparing for first-class practice. However, no prior knowledge of federal substantive law is assumed. Rather, the cases themselves provide all the substantive knowledge needed to analyze them. Indeed, a side benefit of these readings is the introduction they provide to a variety of areas of substantive federal law.
Since the course's beginnings as Henry Hart's six hour two-semester course required in the second year, the field has grown much bigger and more complex. But in today's crowded curriculum Federal Courts is more typically taught in one semester. This compression of an expanding field of national importance poses a problem the best solution of which is rigorous selectivity, providing depth, where warranted, in exchange for inessential breadth. Our clarified modern course is in line with its originator's vision. It considers selected systemic problems viewed in their contexts of political controversy and inevitable change -- the clash of federal and state adjudicatory powers; controversial judicial lawmaking; conflicts between federal and state laws; and power struggles between government and the judiciary.
This particular Section is taught by a student of the originator of the course. Professor Weinberg has twice chaired the Federal Courts Section of the Association of American Law Schools and has been drafted also to serve as its Acting Chair. She is author of a book on Federal Courts, has published classic law review articles in the field, and has written the Oxford Encyclopedia article on Federal Courts.
The course readings are Supreme Court cases, classic and current, intrinsically worth one's time. By special arrangement with West Pub. Co. and the Law School Foundation, the professor's early casebook and last supplement have been made available to her students new from the publisher's latest print run. There is no charge as such, but there is a required minimum contribution of $40 payable to the Law School Foundation. Later cases are assigned by citation, and are easily accessed on the internet.
The exam's coverage will be thorough and deep, but at the time of the exam the student will have some choice over the particular questions to answer, and so will be able to approach the exam from an improved position of personal strength.
Prerequisites: Within the following parameters, the course is freely open to first comers. By design, this Section is expected to be a small one, and a small classroom has been requested for it. Because the course presumes a basic grounding in American tort law, American constitutional law, and American civil procedure, this Section is closed to any student who has not completed these elements of a standard first year of American legal education, and may not be elected in the first year. Four hours.
Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday
10:30 - 11:20 am
Federal Courts (by private arrangement)
last supplement (by private arrangement)