ConLaw Final Exam Grades and Comments

June 8th, 2015

Hello everyone. I apologize for interrupting your summer break with this note. I have submitted grades for Constitutional Law. You can download the exam question, and the A+ paper (If this is yours, please drop me a line!).

This was an extremely difficult test, by design. The two questions probed your understanding of a wide, wide range of topics we covered this semester, from the first to the last class. The first question asked you to assess whether President Eisenhower could attack the “Nazi State” relying on the 1941 Declaration of War against Japan. This was a direct allusion to the debate of whether President Obama attack the Islamic State based on the on the 2001 and 2002 Authorizations for Use of Military Force against Al Qaeda and Iraq. Also, can the President refuse to issue any immigration visas to German, consistent with the Take Care Clause. The issues were similar to things you’ve seen, but different enough to give you room to think.

The second question is real–kind of. Shortly after classes finished, but before the exam, I filed a civil rights challenge in federal court in Austin against the State Department, alleging that they violated Defense Distributed’s right to post information on the internet about 3D-printed guns. You can read about all of the case here. This case presents serious 1st and 2nd Amendment issues. I added the wrinkle of the Federal 3D Firearms Protection Act to test whether you understood the interplay between Section 5 of the 14th Amendment and the Bill of Rights. As the Court explained in Boerne v. Flores, it is up to the Justices, not Congress to define the scope of constitutional rights. To the extent that Congress tried to expand the scope of 1st and 2nd Amendment rights, the federal law would not be valid under Section 5. Many of you wrote that Congress could rely on the Commerce and Necessary and Proper Clause. This isn’t entirely wrong, but was not the best answer, since Congress was specifically trying to redefine constitutional rights.

Here is the breakdown of the grades. On the whole, the grades were quite good, and I am very proud of the class.


I would like to thank all of you for making this a very enjoyable and enlightening class. I learned so much from each and every one of you, and for that I am forever grateful. I hope you will take and treasure this knowledge, and use it to accomplish great things throughout your legal career. Keep the Constitution close to your hearts.