This course is primarily focused on the Supreme Court as an institution. As such it examine the following topics: the evolution of the doctrine of judicial review; the Court’s relationship with the body politic; the process of judicial selection; and how the justices determine their docket. It will also examine the factors that influence the Court’s decision-making, such as modes of legal interpretation, ideological viewpoints, political constraints, the impact of oral argument, the position of the solicitor general, amici briefs, and the media.
The latter part of the course will look at how the Court has approached a particular subset of constitutional issues, namely equal rights and personal liberties. Specifically, we will look at how the Court has approached issues of race, affirmative action, abortion, and same-sex marriage. We will discuss the jurisprudential history of these issues and assess the factors that are likely to influence the Court’s decisions in the future.