Michael D. Ramsey

              Professor of Law, University of San Diego Law School

Constitutional Law I, Spring 2014 Course Webpage




Class Meetings:  T/Th, 10:00 am to 11:50 am


Office Hours:    1:00 pm to 3:30 pm, Tuesday and Thursday; Room 319, Warren Hall


Casebook:  Kathleen M. Sullivan & Noah Feldman, Constitutional Law (18th edition, Foundation Press, 2013).  Additional assignments will be made from materials available on-line.  Note: There is an earlier edition of the casebook, the 17th edition, but it is not an adequate substitute.  The correct edition for this course is the eighteenth edition.




Note: This space will be used for announcements regarding class cancellations, make-ups, optional events of interest, and other updates regarding the course schedule.


Writing Assignment #3 is available below and is due at 9:00 am on Wednesday, April 30.


There will be a make-up class meeting on Wednesday, April 30, 2014, from 1:00 pm to 2:50 pm in Room 3A, Warren Hall  (This will not conflict with Wednesday classes because Friday classes meet on April 30 instead of Wednesday classes)


This class will not meet on Tuesday, April 29, 2014 (Monday classes meet instead of Tuesday classes)




This space will be used to post assignments for each class meeting; these assignments will also be announced in class.  After the first assignment, assignments will be keyed to the course Reading List.  Units 1, 2 and 3 of the Reading List are posted below.


Assignment for Wednesday, April 30, 2014


Reading List Part IX, focus on O’Brien, Texas v. Johnson and Barnes v. Glen Theater


Writing Assignment #3 (First Amendment) (available below) is due at 9:00 am on April 30.


Assignment for Thursday, April 24, 2014


Reading List Part VIII


Assignment for Tuesday, April 22, 2014


Reading List Part VII (focus on the principal cases)

Reading List Part VIII.A


Assignment for Thursday, April 17, 2014


Reading List Part VI


Assignment for Tuesday, April 15, 2014


Reading List Part V

We will begin with a discussion of the Pentagon Papers case from the last assignment.


Optional: here is a link to a discussion of the most recent filings in the Mt. Soledad cross case (bonus: with a picture of the cross and a war memorial ceremony)..


Assignment for Thursday, April 10, 2014


Reading List Part IV, focus on Brandenburg, Planned Parenthood, and New York Times v. United States


Assignment for Tuesday, April 8, 2014


First Amendment Reading List, Part III (focus on the hypothetical and the applicable cases).

Note:  The correct pagination for Part III.A of the assignment is pp. 1556-1572 (not pp. 1566-1572).


Assignment for Thursday, April 3, 2014


New Reading List (First Amendment) (available below), Parts I (skim) and II (focus on Smith and Lukumi)


Assignment for Tuesday, April 1, 2014


Writing Assignment No. 2 (available below) is due at 9:00 am on Tuesday, April 1.


Also, read Reading List Part VIII.


Assignment for Thursday, Mar. 27, 2014


Reading List Part VII.


Assignment for Tuesday, Mar. 25, 2014


Reading List Part VI, focus on Crosby and Gade in the supplemental reading (available below).


Assignment for Thursday, Mar. 20, 2014


Reading List Part V, focus on New York v. United States and Printz v. United States.

Note: the supplemental reading (Gregory v. Ashcroft) is available below.


Assignment for Tuesday, Mar. 18, 2014


Reading List, Part III.D (hypotheticals)

Reading List, Part IV.  We will begin with the NFIB v. Sebelius reading from the prior assignment.


No Class Tuesday, Mar. 11 and Thursday, Mar. 13, 2014 (Spring Break)


No Class Thursday, Mar. 6, 2014 (class cancelled)


Assignment for Tuesday, Mar. 4, 2014


Reading List, Part III.A-C, focus on Lopez, Morrison, and Raich.


Assignment for Thursday, Feb. 27, 2014


Federalism Reading List, Part II, focus on E.C. Knight, Schechter Poultry, and Wickard v. Filburn.


Assignment for Tuesday, Feb. 25, 2014


New Reading List (Unit #2, Federalism), Part I, focus on McCulloch v. Maryland.


Assignment for Thursday, Feb. 20, 2014


Writing Assignment No. 1 (available below) is due at 9:00 am on Thursday, Feb. 20.


Also, after completing the assignment, read the Supreme Court’s opinion in Clapper v. Amnesty International, 133 S.Ct. 1138 (2013) (majority opinion by Justice Alito, dissent by Justice Breyer).  From the perspective of future litigation, what is the most significant sentence in Justice Alito’s opinion?


Assignment for Tuesday, Feb. 18, 2014


Reading List Part V.E &F, focus on the standing hypotheticals (available below).  Also, in Part V.F, focus on Zivotofsky v. Clinton on pp. 69-71.


Assignment for Thursday, Feb. 13, 2014


Reading List Part V.A, B, C & D, focus on Lujan v. Defenders of Wildlife and Massachusetts v. EPA.


No assignment for Tuesday, Feb. 11, 2014.


Assignment for Thursday, Feb. 6, 2014


No new assignment; focus on Marbury v. Madison from the prior assignment.


Assignment for Tuesday, Feb. 4, 2014


Reading List Part III.E (answer questions in hypothetical for discussion in class)

Reading List Part IV (focus on Marbury v. Madison)


Assignment for Thursday, Jan. 30, 2014


Reading List Part III.C & D, focus on Bowsher and Morrison from the prior assignment plus the cases from the supplemental reading.


Assignment for Tuesday, Jan. 28, 2014


Reading List Part III.A & B, focus on Chadha and Bowsher


Assignment for Thursday, Jan. 23, 2014


Reading List, Part II.F, focus on U.S. v. Nixon and Clinton v. Jones


Assignment for Tuesday, Jan 21, 2014


Reading List, part II.D & E, focus on Dames & Moore, Hamdi, and Hypothetical No. 1.


Note: You are not required to turn in your response to the hypothetical -- just be prepared to discuss it.  Please complete the hypothetical before reading the Hamdi case.


Assignment for Thursday, Jan. 16, 2014


Reading List, Part II.A, B & C, focus on the Steel Seizure Case.


Optional:  For those interested, here is the transcript of the oral argument in NLRB v. Noel Canning (the Recess Appointments case), argued 1/13/14.


Assignment for first class meeting (Tuesday, 1/14/14):  download below. 






Assignment for first class meeting (Jan. 14, 2014)

Reading List -- Unit 1 (Separation of Powers)


Supplemental Reading No. 1 (executive power)

Hypothetical No. 1 (executive power)


Supplemental Reading No. 2 (legislative power)

Hypothetical No. 2 (legislative power) (for 2/4)


Standing Hypotheticals (for 2/18)

Writing Assignment No. 1 (for 2/20)


Reading List -- Unit 2 (Federalism)

Federalism Hypotheticals (for 3/18)

Supplemental Reading: Gregory v. Ashcroft (excerpts) (for 3/20)

Supplemental Reading: Crosby and Gade (excerpts) (for 3/25)

Writing Assignment No. 2 (federalism) (for 4/1)


Reading List -- Unit 3 (First Amendment)

Establishment Clause Hypothetical (for 4/8)


Writing Assignment No. 3 (First Amendment) (for 4/30)

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