Const Law II: Jurisprudence and Constitutional Law

Course Information

Registration Information

Meeting Times

Day Time Location
MON, TUE, WED 9:10 - 10:00 am JON 6.207/208

Evaluation Method

Type Date Time Location
Floating take-home exam


The course begins by developing my position on legitimate and valid legal argument in the United States. That position is based on (1) the postulate that to be morally legitimate the use of a legal argument must be consistent with the moral commitments of the society in which the legal argument is being made and (2) an "empirical" conclusion that the United States is a liberal, rights-based society (i.e., a society whose members and governments draw a strong distinction between moral-rights discourse and moral-ought discourse, are committed to moral-rights conclusions) trumping moral-ought conclusions when the two conclusions favor different outcomes, and derive their moral-rights conclusions from a basic commitment to treating all moral-rights- bearing entities for which they are responsible with appropriate, equal respect and concern. The combination of the above postulate and empirical finding lead me to conclude that (1) arguments derived from the liberal principle just articulated are not only inside the law but are the dominant mode of legitimate and valid legal argument in the United States (dominant in that they operate not only directly but also by determining the legitimacy, legitimate variant of, and legitimate weight to be given to the other modes of legal argument that are actually made in our society) and relatedly (2) there are internally-right answers to all legal-rights questions in our society. The second part of the course then explores a variety of moral-philosophical and jurisprudential alternatives to my own. The third part analyzes from my and various alternative moral and jurisprudential perspectives a variety of various judicial opinions that deal with these issues. The fourth part executes parallel analyses of a variety of "appropriate, equal concern"- real Constitutional Law issues and judicial opinions. I expect to focus particularly on affirmative action, the right to die, right to a liberal education, and the possible right to a minimum real income or minimum share of the societal-average minimum real income.

Textbooks ( * denotes required )

Matters of Principle *
Richard S. Markovits
NYU Press
ISBN: 0-8147-5513-5


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Important Class Changes

Date Updated
04/21/2016 Exam information updated