Constitutional Law (Spring 2015) – Syllabus

Constitutional Law

Josh Blackman
Spring 2015
Email: [email protected] (please use this instead of my STCL email)
Course Homepage:
Office: Room 623



Welcome to Constitutional Law. This class will cover a wide range of topics in constitutional law, including our constitutional structure, the scope of federal powers, the separation of powers, the 14th Amendment’s Due Process and Equal Protection clauses, individual liberty, federalism, the First Amendment speech and religion clauses, the Second Amendment, the Supreme Court, and many other topics. We will be using “The Constitution of the United States” by Paulsen, Calabresi, McConnell, Bray (Second Edition, Foundation Press, 2013).


Your final grade will be based entirely on your performance on a three-hour in-class examination. We will hold a review session before the exam.

The exam is completely open-book. You can use anything you wish, so long as that it was printed before the distribution of this exam. Obtaining any new information from anyone or anything after the exam is distributed is prohibited.

You can download previous exams here:


Attendance and Class Participation:

I will take attendance in class. I expect everyone to be prepared to participate in class. Please consult the South Texas College of Law Student Handbook’s section on Attendance and Class Participation (pp. 70-71).


Office Hours

I will hold office hours on Tuesday and Thursday from 11:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m., and at other times by appointment.



I expect that all students will be prepared to engage in our discussions during each session. During class, I will leave open a live chat (known as a backchannel) on the course blog, that will allow you to interact with your colleagues, and with me at the podium, in real time. The livechat will be projected on the screen, so everyone, with or without a laptop, will be able to follow along. I will not tolerate any comments I deem inappropriate.

Outside of class, there will be several channels available to interact with me and your colleagues. First, you can reach me via email at [email protected].  I will rely on the course blog to post all announcements and materials for class. You will be responsible for checking the course blog prior to class. You can also view all the class videos by subscribing to the YouTube channel. (I encourage you to watch all of my lectures from the Spring 2014 semester here). You can view all of the lecture notes in this Google Drive folder.


The course calendar is available here


Class 1 – 1/15/15

Our Founding Documents

Note: Read these documents in their entirety. They’re not long. And no one should graduate law school without reading them at least once.


Class 2 – 1/20/15

Why is the Constitution Supreme?


Class 3 – 1/22/15

The Separation of Powers


Class 4 – 1/27/15

The Legislative Powers


Class 5 – 1/29/15

The Executive Power I – The Appointment Power

Class 6 – 2/3/15

The Executive Power II – Removal Power

Class 7 – 2/5/15

The Executive Power III –  “Take Care That The Laws Be Faithfully Executed”


Class 8 – 2/10/15

The Executive Power IV- Foreign Affairs and War


Class 9 – 2/12/15

Scope of Federal Powers I


Class 10 – 2/17/15

Scope of Federal Powers II


No Class on 2/19/15


Class 12 – 2/24/15

Scope of Federal Powers III


Class 13 – 2/26/15

Extended Lecture on NFIB v. Sebelius (“Obamacare”)


Class 14 – 3/3/15

The Reconstruction Amendments


Class 15 – 3/5/15

The Enforcement Powers of the 14th Amendment


Class 16 – 3/10/15

Equal Protection and Segregation

Class 17 – 3/12/15

Equal Protection and Desegregation


Spring Break – No Classes on 3/17/15 and 3/19/15


Class 18 – 3/24/14

Affirmative Action

Class 19 – 3/26/15

Race & Gender Discrimination


Class 20 – 3/31/15

Substantive Due Process and Economic Liberty


No Class on 4/2/15


Class 22 – 4/7/15

Individual Liberty I


Class 23 – 4/9/15

Individual Liberty II


Class 24 – 4/14/15

Individual Liberty III

Class 25 – 4/16/15

The First Amendment – Speech I


Class 26 – 4/21/15

The First Amendment Speech II

Class 27 – 4/23/15

The First Amendment – Free Exercise

Class 28 – 4/28/15

The Second Amendment


Final Exam Review Session

Date TBD