Federal Courts

Course Information

Registration Information

Meeting Times

Day Time Location
MON, TUE, WED, THU 10:30 - 11:20 am TNH 3.124

Evaluation Method

Type Date Time Location
Final December 10, 2007 8:30 am A-Z in 2.123


This 4-credit course is an advanced course in the structural Constitution of the United States and in public law. It is not a course in federal civil procedure. The course traditionally aims to improve one's understanding of the American two-law, two-court system in a nation of separate but coextensive powers. This is controversial material touching upon the activism of powerful courts. The course opens with an exploration of judicial federal lawmaking power, supremacy, preemption, and related doctrines. It then examines the relation between federal law and federal courts. It deals with acute clashes of power, examining the powers of the federal and state courts to interfere with each other's jurisdiction; the powers of the political branches to control the judiciary; the power of American courts to trump legislatures; the power of the Supreme Court to trump state courts; the power of federal courts to try cases against both state and federal governments; and judicial power to govern by decree. Throughout, the emphasis is on public-law litigation; the remedial powers of federal courts; and constraints on the exercise of judicial power. This course is recommended for students seeking to empower themselves to counsel and/or litigate in any area subject to federal governance: environmental and other administrative law, intellectual property (copyright and patent), broadcasting law, civil rights, constitutional law, securities regulation, employment law, social security, antitrust, admiralty, taxation, and so forth, or in areas on which federal law has certain preemptive impacts, like banking, pension, and insurance law; or in areas in which federal litigation occurs under state law, notably in environmental torts, mass disasters, and products liability. It is, of course, a required course for those interested in judicial clerkship, state or federal, and recommended for those planning to work in, or to represent clients regulated by, a federal agency or department. The course is also helpful to those who would like a better understanding of the extraordinary powers of American courts, and interesting to those who are concerned about political and social issues surrounding the work of federal courts. Finally, the course can provide a chance to gain some useful acquaintance with a range of areas of substantive federal law. The readings are interesting classic or current Supreme Court cases arising across the spectrum of substantive areas of federal law. The casebook is Weinberg, Federal Courts (West 1994), supplemented as needed. By arrangement with the publisher, at this law school the Weinberg casebook will be made available at cost to UT law students for the benefit of the Law School Foundation. [See Kim Simpson, Room 3.118C.] Prerequisites: Because this course presumes a grounding in basic constitutional law, tort law, civil procedure, and other materials of the first year, enrollment is limited to second and third year students. The course may not be elected in the first year.