Balkin– Con Law Fall 2020 Syllabus

Constitutional Law

Professor Jack M. Balkin

Yale Law School


Unless otherwise noted, all page references are to Brest, Levinson, Balkin, Amar and Siegel, Processes of Constitutional Decisionmaking (7th ed. 2018).

Supplemental Materials are directly linked to or are available on Canvas.

We will meet regularly on Zoom on Mondays and Tuesdays from 4:10pm to 6:00pm unless otherwise noted. During the first week of class we will also have a class on Friday, August 28th, from 1:30pm to 3:30pm, also on Zoom.

My regular office hours are on Mondays from 6:10pm to 7:10pm, immediately after our Monday class.

1. Introduction: Interpreting the Constitution (8/24/2020)

A. Getting to know the text

  • The Constitution of the United States, pp. 1-16 (also available on Canvas)

B. Kinds of constitutional arguments

2. National Power (8/25/2020)

(all materials for this class are available on Canvas)

A. McCulloch v. Maryland and implied federal powers

  • Note on the First Bank of the United States, pp. 27-32
  • Note on the Second Bank, pp. 37-39
  • McCulloch v. Maryland and Notes, pp. 39-53, 66-74
  • The Reaction to McCulloch, pp. 53-55
  • Note on Constitutional Interpretation, pp. 55-66

B. What if the President disagrees with the Court about the meaning of the Constitution?

  • Andrew Jackson’s Veto Message and Notes, pp. 76-81
  • Note on Presidential Authority, pp. 81-84

3. Constitutional Interpreters and Judicial Review (8/28/2020 at 1:30pm)

(all materials for this class are available on Canvas)

A. Judicial Review

  • Note on Judicial Review before Marbury, pp. 108-111
  • The Election of 1800 and Notes, pp. 112-114
  • Note on Political Early Struggles over the Federal Judiciary, pp. 114-117
  • Stuart v. Laird and Notes, pp. 117-119
  • Marbury v. Madison and Notes, pp. 120-139
  • Theories of Judicial Review, pp. 144-154 (note Martin v. Hunter’s Lessee, pp. 146)
  • Notes on Jurisdiction Stripping, Standing and Political Questions, pp. 139-144

4. “Commerce among the several states” and the “General Welfare” (8/31/2020)

  • Gibbons v. Ogden and Notes, pp. 187-200
  • Note on Federal Preemption, pp. 200-201
  • Note on Interstate Federalism and the National Economy, pp. 835-842
  • Notes on The General Welfare, Disaster Relief, and Internal Improvements, 208-216

5. The Jacksonian Era and Slavery (9/01/2020)

  • Note on the Natural Law Tradition and Calder v. Bull, pp. 166-174 (Note particularly Barron v. City of Baltimore, p. 172)
  • Note on The Jacksonian Era, pp. 217-219
  • Note on Slavery, p. 245
  • Notes and Prigg v. Pennsylvania, pp. 251-260
  • Note on Prelude to Secession, pp. 260-263
  • Dred Scott v. Sandford and Notes, pp. 263-288
  • Frederick Douglass, The Constitution of the United States: Is it Pro-Slavery or Anti-Slavery? and Notes, pp. 288-293

6. The Civil War and the War Power (9/07/2020)

7. Reconstruction and Reaction I– Adoption of the Reconstruction Amendments  (9/08/2020)

  • The Thirteenth, Fourteenth, and Fifteenth Amendments, pp. 11-12
  • History of the Adoption of the Reconstruction Amendments, pp. 331-338
  • Senator Howard’s Speech on the Fourteenth Amendment and Notes, pp. 338-347 
  • Note on What the Fourteenth Amendment Did Not Say, p. 347
  • Note on The Unusual Procedural History of the Fourteenth Amendment, pp. 348-356
  • Note on The Fifteenth Amendment, pp. 356-357
  • The Slaughterhouse Cases and Notes, pp. 359-376
  • United States v. Cruikshank and Notes, pp. 376-377
  • Women’s Citizenship in the Antebellum Era, pp. 182-186
  • Bradwell v. Illinois and Notes, pp. 377-380
  • Note on The New Departure and Minor v. Happersett, pp. 380-386
  • James C. Ho, “Defining American”
  • Scholars’ Letter on Senator Kamala Harris’s Eligibility

8. Reconstruction and Reaction II–Equal Protection and Congress’s Enforcement Power (9/14/2020)

  • Strauder v. West Virginia and Notes, pp. 391-398
  • The Civil Rights Cases and Notes, pp. 398-412
  • Notes on the meaning of “slavery,” pp. 485-487

9. Reconstruction and Reaction III– The Reconstruction Amendments and Race (9/15/2020)

  • Plessy v. Ferguson and Notes, pp. 412-426
  • Charles Black, the Lawfulness of the Segregation Decisions, pp. 426-427
  • Note on The Spirit of Plessy and Giles v. Harris, pp. 427-431
  • The Insular Cases and Notes, pp.  431-444

10. The Lochner Era (9/21/2020)

A. Police Powers Jurisprudence

  • Notes on the Rise of Due Process Protection Against State Economic Regulation, pp. 456-460
  • Note on the Application of the Bill of Rights to the States, pp. 460-463
  • Lochner v. State of New York and Notes, pp. 463-469
  • Notes on the Jurisprudence of the Lochner Era, pp. 469-481 (note Coppage v. Kansas, pp. 472-473 and Muller v. Oregon, pp. 473-474)
  • Jacobson v. Massachusetts (available on Canvas)

B. The Decline of Police Powers Jurisprudence

  • Nebbia v. New York and Notes, pp. 541-543
  • Home Building & Loan Association v. Blaisdell and Notes, pp. 543-552
  • Notes and West Coast Hotel v. Parrish, pp. 552-555

11. The New Deal and the Emergence of the Modern Paradigm of Judicial Scrutiny (09/22/2020)

  • U.S. v. Carolene Products Co. and Notes, pp. 555-562
  • Williamson v. Lee Optical Co. and Notes, pp. 562-569
  • Note on Constitutional Modernity, pp. 531-532
  • Note on Incorporation of the Bill of Rights Against the States, pp. 532-540
  • Timbs v. Indiana (available on Canvas)
  • Ramos v. Louisiana (available on Canvas)

12. The New Deal Struggle over National Power and the Emergence of the Modern Regulatory State (09/29/2020, 10/05/2020)

A. The Court Enforces Dual Federalism

  • Hammer v. Dagenhart and Notes, pp. 494-502
  • Bailey v. Drexel Furniture Co. and Notes, pp. 502-504

B. The Court Strikes Down Early New Deal Programs

  • Schechter Poultry Corp. v. United States and Notes, pp. 591-593
  • Carter v. Carter Coal Co. and Notes, pp. 593-598
  • United States v. Butler and Notes, pp. 598-602

C. The Revolution of 1937

  • Franklin D. Roosevelt, Fireside Chat on the Court Packing Plan, pp. 603-607
  • NLRB v. Jones and Laughlin Steel Corp. and Notes, pp. 607-608
  • Franklin D. Roosevelt, Speech on Constitution Day, pp. 608-610
  • Balkin, Don’t Pack the Court, Regularize Appointments
  • United States v. Darby and Notes, pp. 610-613
  • Wickard v. Filburn and Notes, pp. 613-616
  • Note on Constitutional Revolution, pp. 616-618
  • Notes on the Taxing and Spending Powers, pp. 618-621

13. The Warren Court and the Civil Rights Movement (10/06/2020)

A. The Civil Rights Act of 1964

  • Notes on The Civil Rights Movement and the Civil Rights Act of 1964, pp. 621-627
  • Note on Congressional Power to Pass the Civil Rights Bill, pp. 627-629
  • Heart of Atlanta Motel and Katzenbach v. McClung, pp. 629-633
  • Jones v. Alfred Mayer Co. and Notes, pp. 651-654

B. The Voting Rights Act of 1965

  • Note on the Reconstruction Power in the Civil Rights Era, pp. 633-634
  • Note on the Voting Rights Act of 1965, pp. 634-639
  • Notes and South Carolina v. Katzenbach, pp. 639-643
  • Katzenbach v. Morgan and Notes, pp. 643-651

C. The Roberts Court and the Voting Rights Act

  • Shelby County, Alabama v. Holder, pp. 759-783

14. Presidential Power (10/12/2020)

A. Presidential Appointments and Independent Federal Agencies

  • Morrison v. Olson, pp.  878-898.
  • Free Enterprise Fund v. PCAOB, note 2, pp. 901-903
  • Seila Law LLC v. Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (available on Canvas)

B. Executive Privilege

  • United States v. Nixon, pp. 856-867
  • Note on Congressional Oversight in the Trump Presidency (available on Canvas)
  • Trump v. Vance (available on Canvas)
  • Trump v. Mazars USA, LLP (available on Canvas)

C. The Presentment Clause

  • INS v. Chadha and Notes, pp.  913-936.

15. The Contemporary Debate over National Power I (10/13/2020)

A. The Commerce Power

  • Introduction, pp. 659-660
  • United States v. Lopez and Notes, pp. 660-678
  • U.S. v. Morrison, pp. 678-680
  • Scarborough v. United States, pp. 680-682
  • Gonzales v. Raich and Notes, pp. 682-686
  • NFIB v. Sebelius and Notes, pp. 686-699
  • United States v. Comstock, pp. 699-704

B. The Taxing Power

  • NFIB v. Sebelius and Notes, pp. 704-712

C. The Spending Power

  • Note on the Spending Clause and South Dakota v. Dole, pp. 712-714
  • NFIB v. Sebelius and Notes, pp. 714-727

16. The Contemporary Debate over National Power II (10/19/2020)

A. Implied Limits on Federal Regulation of the States

  • New York v. United States and Notes, pp. 797-811
  • Printz v. United States and Notes, pp. 811-824
  • Note on Cooperative (and Uncooperative) Federalism, pp. 830-835
  • Hans v. Louisiana and Notes, pp. 511-513
  • Note on State Sovereign Immunity, pp. 824-829

B. Congressional Power to Enforce the Civil War Amendments

  • City of Boerne v. Flores and Notes, pp. 731-746
  • United States v. Morrison, pp. 746-752
  • Board of Trustees of the University of Alabama v. Garrett, pp. 752-759

17. The Modern Debate over Racial Equality (10/20/2019)

A. Brown and Its Legacy

  • Notes on the Background to the School Desegregation Case, pp. 1017-1022
  • Brown v. Board of Education, Bolling v. Sharpe, and Notes, pp. 1023-1030
  • The Southern Manifesto and Notes, pp. 1030-1032
  • Brown and the Original Understanding, pp. 1032-1038
  • Four Decades of School Desegregation, pp. 1038-1053 (skim)
  • Parents Involved in Community Schools v. Seattle School District No. 1 and Notes, pp. 1186-1216

B. Anticlassification and Antisubordination

  • Korematsu v. United States and Notes, pp. 1054-1060
  • Loving v. Virginia and Notes, pp. 1061-1073

18. What Constitutes Discrimination “based on” Race? (10/26/2020)

A. The Reach of the Suspect Classification Doctrine

  • Brown v. Oneonta and Notes, pp. 1123-1125
  • Johnson v. California and Notes, pp. 1073-1074
  • Note on Child Custody and Placement Policies, pp. 1074-1076
  • Note on Government Collection and Use of Racial Data, pp. 1076-1079
  • Note on Four Concepts of Race, pp. 1079-1081

B. Discriminatory Intention

  • Early Cases on Racial Discrimination, pp. 1081-1085
  • Griggs v. Duke Power Co. and Notes, pp. 1085-1089
  • Washington v. Davis and Notes, pp. 1089-1094
  • Village of Arlington Heights v. Metro Housing Development Corp. pp. 1094-1095
  • Personnel Administrator of Massachusetts v. Feeney and Notes, pp. 1095-1101
  • McCleskey v. Kemp and Notes, pp. 1116-1123

19. Affirmative Action (10/27/2020)

  • Notes and Bakke v. Regents of the University of California, pp. 1128-1137
  • Richmond v. J.A. Croson Co., and Notes, pp. 1137-1152
  • Adarand Constructors v. Pena and Notes, pp. 1152-1154
  • Note on Originalism and Affirmative Action, pp. 1154-1159
  • Grutter v. Bollinger and Gratz v. Bollinger, pp. 1159-1186
  • Fisher v. University of Texas at Austin (Fisher II), pp. 1216-1226
  • Hua Hsu, The Rise and Fall of Affirmative Action (optional)

20. Gender Classifications and Gender Equality (11/02/2020)

  • Frontiero v. Richardson and Notes, pp. 1257-1266
  • United States v. Virginia and Notes, pp. 1287-1306
  • Personnel Administrator of Massachusetts v. Feeney and Notes, pp. 1327-1335
  • Geduldig v. Aiello and Notes, pp. 1335-1339
  • Note on Pregnancy as a Justification for Sex-Differentiated Treatment of Men and Women, pp. 1315-1317
  • Reva Siegel, The Ninteenth Amendment (available on Canvas)
  • Note on the Equal Rights Amendment, pp. 1266-1273
  • Note on ratifying the Equal Rights Amendment today (available on Canvas)

21. Alienage and Other Suspect Classifications (11/03/2020)

A. Other Suspect Classifications

  • Other Suspect Bases of Classification, pp. 1360-1363
  • Cleburne v. Cleburne Living Center and Notes, pp. 1363-1374

B. Alienage

  • Cases and Notes on Alienage and the Equal Protection Clause, pp. 1227-1247
  • Trump v. Hawaii and Notes (available on Canvas)
  • Department of Homeland Security v. Regents of the University of California (available on Canvas)

22. Equal Protection and Fundamental Rights (11/09/2020)

A. Equal Protection and Fundamental Rights

  • Notes and Harper v. Virginia Board of Elections, pp. 1649-1657
  • Note on Protecting the Poor Through the Fourteenth Amendment, pp. 1657-1660
  • Dandridge v. Williams and Notes, pp. 1661-1668
  • San Antonio Independent School District v. Rodriguez and Notes, pp. 1668-1682
  • Note on the Enforceability of Positive Rights, pp. 1688-1694
  • South Bay United Pentecostal Church v. Newsom (available on Canvas)

B. The Constitutionality of a Wealth Tax

23. Modern Substantive Due Process: “Privacy,” Sexual Autonomy or Tradition? (11/10/2020)

  • Historical Roots of Fundamental Rights Adjudication, pp. 1377-1382
  • Griswold v. Connecticut and Notes, pp. 1383-1403
  • Note on The Reach of Griswold, pp. 1403-1405
  • Note on Tradition as a Source of Fundamental Rights, pp. 1405-1413
  • Lawrence v. Texas and Notes, pp. 1535-1555
  • Roe v. Wade and Notes, pp. 1414-1428
  • Note: Did Roe Cause the Abortion Conflict?, pp. 1428-1431
  • Abortion and the Equal Protection Clause, pp. 1431-1440

24. Abortion and Gender Discrimination (11/16/2020)

  • Note on Decisions After Roe, pp. 1440-1447 (note Maher v. Roe and Harris v. McCrae, pp. 1440-1442)
  • Planned Parenthood of Southeastern Pennsylvania v. Casey and Notes, pp. 1447-1482
  • Gonzales v. Carhart and Notes, pp. 1482-1489
  • Note on Absolute and Incremental Restrictions on Abortion, pp. 1490-1495
  • Whole Woman’s Health v. Hellerstedt, pp. 1495-1510
  • June Medical Services L.L.C. v. Russo (available on Canvas)

25. Sexual Orientation– Due Process or Equal Protection? (11/17/2019)

  • Romer v. Evans and Notes, pp. 1525-1535
  • Note on Liberty, Equality, and Lawrence, pp. 1555-1559
  • Note on Sexual Orientation, Equal Protection, and Heightened Scrutiny, pp. 1559-1566
  • Note on Same Sex Marriage and United States v. Windsor, pp. 1566-1574
  • Obergefell v. Hodges, pp. 1575-1604
  • Note on Backlash and Social Movements, pp. 1604-1607
  • Bostock v. Clayton County, Georgia (available on Canvas)