Spotlight

Law and Order with Constitutional Law

So the New Year has gone by and a year of world chaos has been left behind. That means, of course, we have a whole new year of political chaos to look forward to. Yes, it does sound slightly depressing to know there’s another year of government-related disorder the world will have to experience.

If you want to be prepared for all the government-related explosions that will ensue, especially the laws that directly affect us, TPS offers us Constitutional Law, founded in 2014 and taught by Mrs. Youhas.

In this class, students learn how to evaluate a particular case like a lawyer. All of their evidence will be based on primary sources. After reading the case, the students must learn to analyze the merits of both sides.

The first part of class focuses on examining the powers of the three branches of government while the second part of the lecture focuses on the individual liberties contained in the Bill of Rights, except for the Free Speech clause of the First Amendment, which is a whole new class by itself.

As the body of Constitutional Law is constantly changing as the Supreme Court and Circuit course issue new opinions, the class is updated to fit real time if a new opinion comes up in one of the areas of study. In this way, students will have current-time application for their studies in the law.

Mrs. Youhas uses the case method in teaching her class, like an actual law school class. The case method is a teaching approach that uses decision-forcing cases to put students in the place of someone who had to make a similar decision in the past.

TPS’s Constitutional Law is taught in a Socratic style, meaning there’s a large emphasis on participation. Students will have to come to class prepared to discuss the cases, and around Week 3, the students will be put on the spot and be gently led through a proper analysis of each case with questions. They will have to argue for both sides, as the skill is important to predict what your opponent might say.

Most of the texts used are a collection of provided cases and court opinions. Michael Farris’ Constitutional Law for Enlightened Citizens is also used. The textbook contains almost exclusively Supreme Court opinions that Mrs. Youhas supplements with new cases as they are handed down.

The homework takes about four hours a week. In the beginning, the skills needed to write briefs may take up a little more time, but as the second semester comes, all the required skills will come much more quickly.

Mrs. Youhas encourages students to take the class, saying, “If you want to understand what and why the law is where it is today, then this is a great starting point. Legal analysis and argumentation is also a tool that can be developed and ultimately used to engage with the culture around us in a thoughtful and reasoned way. Finally, if anyone believes they may have a calling to practice law, this course could be a good way to further explore that possibility. This is in no way meant to imply that this course is only for future lawyers. Hopefully every student is a future voter and this is a great way to understand our body politic. The most contentious issues of the day come up before the Supreme Courts and the course provides a microcosm of what is happening in our civil (or at times uncivil) society.”

Photo credit: https://www.crisismagazine.com/2013/what-a-constitution-can-and-cant-do

One Comment

  1. Sounds like an interesting course, Aina! And great quote from Mrs. Youhas :).