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American history shapes, and is shaped by, the decisions of the United States Supreme Court. This course will examine several fundamental recurring issues in American history through the lens of opinions issued by that Court. The course begins with an overview of the process. How does a case get to the Supreme Court? How should the Constitution be interpreted? Should the Justices stick to the literal meaning of the words as they were understood in 1789, or should they interpret the words in light of changed circumstances? We will then examine several important and recurring issues in American history, using decisions of the United States Supreme Court as our focal point, looking at what was happening both inside and outside the Supreme Court doors. The first substantive topic is the allocation of the powers of our governments: How is power divided among the three branches of the federal government, and how is power allocated between the federal and state governments? The second topic is civil rights: How are the rights of individual citizens and groups of citizens protected or limited by Supreme Court decisions? While most of the cases and much of American history focuses on the civil rights struggles of Blacks, we will also look at cases involving other historically marginalized groups.The final topic is democracy itself. How has the Court protected (or not protected) the rights of Americans to elect and control the government?
Instructor: Hugh Patrick Furman
Hugh Patrick Furman graduated from law school in 1980, practiced criminal defense for seven years, and then joined the faculty at the University of Colorado School of Law, where he taught for twenty-five years. He specialized in criminal law, criminal procedure, constitutional law, evidence, trial advocacy, and wrongful convictions. He has taught and written articles and teaching materials in these areas. He has written books on evidence, trial advocacy, and D.U.I. Hugh retired in 2017 but continues to teach trial advocacy to lawyers, law students, and high school students. He has received professional awards for his teaching and his pro bono work.
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