SMNR: The Constitution, Inequality, and Political Economy

Course Information

Registration Information

Meeting Times

Day Time Location
WED 4:15 - 6:13 pm ONLINE

Evaluation Method

Type Date Time Location


This course will be taught entirely online via Zoom.  It will feature visits from several of the authors and activists whose work we will study.

Our focus will be on the Constitution and its relationship to questions of political economy.  We will explore how the Constitution and constitutional doctrine have contributed to the problem of economic inequality, including its racial and gender dimensions.   And we will examine how the Constitution has empowered government to remedy problems of economic inequality and poverty, and how, on many occasions in the past, it has been understood to require such action.  More fundamentally, we will ask how we might reimagine and construct a constitutional order that distributes social and economic resources and power more equitably and in ways that promote the political equality on which constitutional democracy depends.  Our approach will be historical, doctrinal, and theoretical; readings will be a mix of caselaw and academic writing. 

Topics will include some theoretical work on the role of law in the construction of capitalist or “market society” and the vexed relationship between capitalism – and its characteristic forms of economic inequality - and democracy; the contemporary Supreme Court’s “neo-liberal” or “Lochner revival”;  slavery and reparations; the intersections of racial and economic inequality; labor rights, including the right to strike, form unions and bargain collectively; work and income guarantees; and labor participation in governance; the economic dimensions of gender inequality; fundamental welfare rights, such as education and housing; the relationship of economic inequality to democracy; judicial review, departmentalism, and popular constitutionalism; the desirability of structural constitutional reforms; and whether constitutionalizing problems of economic inequality is actually counterproductive.  We will also consider how other countries’ constitutions deal with these issues.

Textbooks ( * denotes required )

No materials required


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Important Class Changes

Date Updated
11/10/2020 Course is cross listed