California Western -- Michal Belknap
Courses Taught - Michal R. Belknap
Criminal Law

American Legal History II

Constitutional Law I     Constitutional Law Seminar 

Constitutional Law II

CRIMINAL LAW (3 units)
Studies the current law of crimes, both common law and statutory.  This inquiry focuses on when and how the state can deprive citizens of liberty.  General principles of criminal liability include elements of certain crimes, justification, excuse, and sanctions.
This course examines the role of law and legal institutions in American history from the Civil War to the beginning of. The 21st century.  It explores the economic, political, and social forces that have shaped the development of our judicial system and our substantive law, as well as the contributions that the legal system has made to the development of the economy and society of the United States.  Topics covered include civil liberties, civil rights and constitutional change during the Civil War and Reconstruction; the evisceration of the Reconstruction constitutional amendments by the Supreme Court; the legal treatment of racial minorities and women during the late nineteenth century;   the use of law to promote economic development; the movement toward increased state and federal regulation of the economy and the judicial reaction to it; the emergence of the modern legal profession; the impact of the Progressive movement on the law; World War I and the post-war Red Scare; legal reaction during the 1920s; the struggle between Franklin Roosevelt's New Deal and the Supreme Court; the domestic legal consequences of World War II, the Korean War, and Vietnam; the civil rights revolution of the 1950s and 1960s; the Supreme Court under Chief Justices Earl Warren and Warren Burger;  the impact of consumerism on late 20th century tort, contract, and real property law; and the legal and constitutional consequences of the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks on America.   back to top
Constitutional Law I provides an introduction to the basic structural issues in constitutional law, with particular reference to the role of the Supreme Court.  The topics covered in the course include judicial review, the powers of the various branches of the federal government, the distribution of powers between the federal and state governments, and the extent to which constitutional guarantees of individual liberty limit the actions of states and private individuals (particularly with respect to discriminatory conduct based on race).  This section has an historical orientation.  Particular attention will be paid to constitutional problems of federalism, executive power, and war and foreign affairs.   back to top
This course provides students with an introduction to the basic individual liberty issues in constitutional law.  The topics covered include freedom of speech, freedom of the press, freedom of religion, equal protection, procedural due process, substantive due process, and the right to privacy.  Subjects such as the constitutional aspects of race relations, gender discrimination, and the abortion controversy receive substantial attention, as do the historical, social, and political forces that have shaped the development of constitutional doctrine.   back to top
This is a scholarly writing seminar with an enrollment limit of 20.  The most recent topic was on the occasion of the 50th Anniversary of Brown v. Board of Education.  Students' grades in this class will be based primarily on a research paper.  Students will also be expected to give an oral presentation on their research, and that and class participation will also be considered in determining grades at the end of the course.  Constitutional Law I is prerequisite to this course.   back to top

Full course descriptions are available in PDF format on the J.D. Curriculum page.

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