State Constitutional Law and Contemporary Public Policy

In this course, we will examine how state constitutional law creates the frameworks and conditions for the development of public policy in the American states. Our focus will be on (1) the structure of state and local governmental power under the rubric of state constitutions and constitutional law, as constrained and empowered by federal law; and (2) the performance of public authorities under this law and structure, this in dealing with some the key public policy issues of our time. In particular, we will look at education, fiscal policy, including taxation, distribution, and the pension crisis, electoral processes, and criminal justice. We hope that from this close analysis will come a deeper understanding of the connection between the so-called “parchment barriers” embodied in our state constitutions and the real world of policymaking in modern government.

Sequence and Prerequisites: None

Evaluation: The assignments will include two perspective papers, to be completed during the term, and one final research paper.

The course will be co-taught by Vikram Amar (Dean, University of Illinois College of Law) and Daniel Rodriguez (Dean, Northwestern Pritzker School of Law)