The Supreme Court and the Constitution

Teacher: Beth Olesen
Extra Help: Tuesday, 3 - 4 PM in Room 149

Course Overview

When We Meet:

Block B – Monday Period 2, Wednesday Period 1, Friday Period 2

Block F – Tuesday Period 2, Thursday Period 3, Friday Period 6

Course Essential Questions:

What is a constitution and what is its purpose? Why should we uphold the U.S. Constitution? How should we interpret the Constitution to apply to modern controversies?

Course Summary: What do we want from our government? How can the government protect the people from itself? What is more important – safety, order, and security or liberty and diversity? These questions puzzle the constitutional scholars of today just as they confounded the delegates to the 1787 Constitutional Convention. Moreover, these questions continue to matter to our everyday lives. In this course we will challenge ourselves to think through the decisions that the Constitution’s writers made by simulating the historical Constitutional Convention, learning about what the Constitution sets forth, and discussing seminal political theorist and their relevance to today. Continuing to draw connections to the society we know, IACS, our class will convene our own convention to create a constitution for our little microcosm of the world. In the latter part of the course, we will study the evolution of the Supreme Court’s thinking about fundamental rights and research an issue that is likely to reach the Supreme Court this year or next – same-sex marriage. To simulate the Supreme Court case, students will research the two sides (in our case, we will likely use Utah and Virginia’s appeals of federal court decisions) and what the actual Supreme Court justices would be likely to decide. As our final work together, the class will hold oral arguments and will write briefs and opinions to determine whether or not the Supreme Court is likely to rule that banning same-sex marriage is constitutional.