Balkin– Con Law Fall 2022 Syllabus

Constitutional Law

Professor Jack M. Balkin

Yale Law School



Unless otherwise noted, all page references are Levinson, Balkin, Amar, Siegel and Rodriguez, Processes of Constitutional Decisionmaking (8th ed. 2022). Supplemental Materials are directly linked to or are available on Canvas.

We will meet regularly on on Mondays from 4:10pm to 6:00pm and Tuesdays from 2:10pm to 4:00pm in Baker Hall, Room 124 on the first floor of Baker Hall.

We will also have two makeup classes on Friday, August 26th, from 2:10pm to 4:00pm, and Friday, September 2d, from 2:10pm to 4:00pm, also in Baker Hall, Room 124.

My regular office hours are on Mondays from 6:10pm to 7:10pm in Baker Hall Room 411B, immediately after our Monday class.

1. Introduction: Interpreting the Constitution (8/22/2022)

A. Getting to know the text

  • The Constitution of the United States, pp. xliii-lix

B. Kinds of constitutional arguments

2. National Power (8/23/2022)

A. McCulloch v. Maryland and implied federal powers

  • Note on the Second Bank, pp. 23-26
  • McCulloch v. Maryland and Notes, pp. 26-40,  54-62
  • Note on Constitutional Interpretation, pp. 43-54

3. Constitutional Interpreters and Judicial Review (8/26/2022 at 2:10pm, Baker Hall 124)

A. Judicial Review

  • Note on Judicial Review before Marbury, pp. 99-102
  • The Election of 1800 and Notes, pp. 103-106
  • Note on Political Early Struggles over the Federal Judiciary, pp. 106-109
  • Stuart v. Laird and Notes, pp. 109-110
  • Marbury v. Madison and Notes, pp. 111-132
  • Notes on Jurisdiction Stripping, Standing and Political Questions, pp. 132-137
  • Theories of Judicial Review, pp. 137-148 (note Martin v. Hunter’s Lessee, pp. 139-140)

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

  • Andrew Jackson’s Veto Message and Notes, pp. 65-70
  • Note on Presidential Authority, pp. 70-72 

4. “Commerce among the several states” and the “General Welfare” (8/29/2022)

  • Gibbons v. Ogden and Notes, pp. 183-197
  • Note on Federal Preemption, pp. 197-198
  • Note on Interstate Federalism and the National Economy, pp. 850-867
  • Notes on The General Welfare, Disaster Relief, and Internal Improvements, 206-214

5. The Jacksonian Era and Slavery (8/30/2022)

  • Note on the Natural Law Tradition and Calder v. Bull, pp. 160-167 (Note particularly Barron v. City of Baltimore, p. 167)
  • Note on The Jacksonian Era, pp. 215-221
  • Note on Slavery, p. 245
  • Notes and Prigg v. Pennsylvania, pp. 251-261
  • Note on the rights of Black People before the Civil War, pp.  261-263
  • Note on Prelude to Secession, pp. 263-266
  • Dred Scott v. Sandford and Notes, pp. 266-292
  • Frederick Douglass, The Constitution of the United States: Is it Pro-Slavery or Anti-Slavery? and Notes, pp. 292-297

6. The Civil War and the War Power (9/02/2022 at 2:10pm, Baker Hall 124)

  • The Prize Cases, pp. 313-318
  • Note and Youngstown Sheet and Tube Co. v. Sawyer, pp. 1015-1036
  • Note on the War Power, pp. 1037-1046
  • Lincoln and the Suspension of Habeas Corpus, pp. 318-323
  • Note on the Emancipation Proclamation, pp. 323-328
  • Note on Reverence for Law, pp. 328-331
  • The Legal Tender Cases, pp. 337-346
  • Table of Justices, pp. 1801-1818

7. Reconstruction and Reaction I– Adoption of the Reconstruction Amendments  (9/05/2022)

  • The Thirteenth, Fourteenth, and Fifteenth Amendments, pp. liv-lv
  • History of the Adoption of the Reconstruction Amendments, pp. 347-357
  • Senator Howard’s Speech on the Fourteenth Amendment and Notes, pp. 357-367
  • United States v. Hall, pp. 367-369
  • Note on The Unusual Procedural History of the Fourteenth Amendment, pp. 369-378
  • Note on The Fifteenth Amendment, pp. 378-379
  • The Slaughterhouse Cases and Notes, pp. 381-398
  • United States v. Cruikshank and Notes, pp. 398-399
  • Bradwell v. Illinois and Notes, pp. 399-402
  • Note on The New Departure and Minor v. Happersett, pp. 402-408
  • Note on The Fourteenth Amendment, Birthright Citizenship, and American Indians, pp. 408-411

8. Reconstruction and Reaction II–Equal Protection and Congress’s Enforcement Power (9/06/2022)

  • Strauder v. West Virginia and Notes, pp. 413-421
  • The Civil Rights Cases and Notes, pp. 421-436

9. Reconstruction and Reaction III– The Reconstruction Amendments and Race (9/12/2022)

  • Plessy v. Ferguson and Notes, pp. 436-449
  • Charles Black, the Lawfulness of the Segregation Decisions, pp. 449-450
  • Note on The Spirit of Plessy and Giles v. Harris, pp. 450-456

10. The Lochner Era (9/13/2022)

A. Police Powers Jurisprudence

  • Notes on the Rise of Due Process Protection Against State Economic Regulation, pp. 476-481
  • Note on the Application of the Bill of Rights to the States, pp. 481-485
  • Lochner v. State of New York and Notes, pp. 485-491
  • Notes on the Jurisprudence of the Lochner Era, pp. 491- 504 (note Coppage v. Kansas, pp. 494-496, Jacobson v. Massachusetts,  p. 496-497,  and Muller v. Oregon, pp. 497-498)
  • Adkins v. Children’s Hospital, pp. 504-505 

B. The Decline of Police Powers Jurisprudence

  • Nebbia v. New York and Notes, pp. 569-571
  • Home Building & Loan Association v. Blaisdell and Notes, pp. 571-581
  • Notes and West Coast Hotel v. Parrish, pp. 581-584

11. The New Deal and the Emergence of the Modern Paradigm of Judicial Scrutiny (9/19/2022)

  • U.S. v. Carolene Products Co. and Notes, pp. 584-592
  • Williamson v. Lee Optical Co. and Notes, pp. 592-600
  • Note on Constitutional Modernity, pp. 557-558
  • Note on Incorporation of the Bill of Rights Against the States, pp. 558-567

12. The New Deal Struggle and the Revolution of 1937 (9/20/2022)

A. The Court Enforces Dual Federalism

  • Hammer v. Dagenhart and Notes, pp. 517-525
  • Bailey v. Drexel Furniture Co. and Notes, pp. 526-531

B. The Court Strikes Down Early New Deal Programs

  • Schechter Poultry Corp. v. United States and Notes, pp. 600-602
  • Carter v. Carter Coal Co. and Notes, pp. 602-607
  • United States v. Butler and Notes, pp. 607-612

C. Roosevelt Responds

  • Franklin D. Roosevelt, Fireside Chat on the Court Packing Plan, pp. 612-616
  • NLRB v. Jones and Laughlin Steel Corp. and Notes, pp. 616-618
  • Franklin D. Roosevelt, Speech on Constitution Day, pp. 618-620
  • Table of Justices, pp. 1801-1818

13. The Emergence of the Modern Regulatory State (10/03/2022)

A. The New Deal Settlement

  • United States v. Darby and Notes, pp. 620-623
  • Wickard v. Filburn and Notes, pp. 623-626
  • Note on Constitutional Revolution, pp. 626-628
  • Notes on the Taxing and Spending Powers, pp. 628-631

B. The Civil Rights Act of 1964

  • Notes on The Civil Rights Movement and the Civil Rights Act of 1964, pp. 631-637
  • Note on Congressional Power to Pass the Civil Rights Bill, pp. 637-640
  • Heart of Atlanta Motel and Katzenbach v. McClung, pp. 640-644

14. The Second Reconstruction and the Voting Rights Act (10/04/2022)

A. The Voting Rights Act of 1965

  • Note on the Reconstruction Power in the Civil Rights Era, pp. 644-646
  • Note on the Voting Rights Act of 1965, pp. 646-651
  • Notes and South Carolina v. Katzenbach, pp. 651-655
  • Katzenbach v. Morgan and Notes, pp. 655-663
  • Jones v. Alfred Mayer Co. and Notes, pp. 664-667
  • Oregon v. Mitchell and Notes, pp. 667-669

B. The Roberts Court and the Voting Rights Act

  • Shelby County, Alabama v. Holder, pp. 776-801
  • Brnovich v. Democratic National Committee, pp. 801-805

15. Presidential Power (10/11/2022)

A. Presidential Appointments and Independent Federal Agencies

  • Seila Law LLC v. Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, pp.  955-980
  • United States v. Morrison and Notes, pp. 924-944
  • Edmonds v. United States and Notes, pp. 944-949
  • United States v. Arthrex, pp. 949-955

B. Executive Privilege

  • United States v. Nixon, pp. 882-893
  • Trump v. Vance, pp.  893-909
  • Note on Congressional Oversight, pp.  909-912
  • Trump v. Mazars USA, LLP, pp. 913-924
  • Trump v. Thompson (on Canvas)
  • Note on Presidential Privileges and Immunites, pp. 1090-1094

16. The Contemporary Debate over National Power I (10/17/2022)

A. The Commerce Power

  • Introduction, pp. 671-672
  • United States v. Lopez and Notes, pp. 673-691
  • U.S. v. Morrison, pp. 691-693
  • Scarborough v. United States, pp. 693-695
  • Gonzales v. Raich and Notes, pp. 695-699
  • NFIB v. Sebelius and Notes, pp. 700-713
  • United States v. Comstock, pp. 713-718

B. The Taxing Power

  • NFIB v. Sebelius and Notes, pp. 718-727

C. The Spending Power

  • Note on the Spending Clause and South Dakota v. Dole, pp. 727-730
  • NFIB v. Sebelius and Notes, pp. 730-743

17. The Contemporary Debate over National Power II (10/18/2022)

A. Implied Limits on Federal Regulation of the States

  • New York v. United States and Notes, pp. 819-835
  • Printz v. United States and Notes, pp. 835-848
  • Note on State Sovereign Immunity, pp. 848-854
  • Note on Cooperative (and Uncooperative) Federalism, pp. 854-860

B. Congressional Power to Enforce the Civil War Amendments

  • City of Boerne v. Flores and Notes, pp. 747-763
  • United States v. Morrison, pp. 763-769
  • Board of Trustees of the University of Alabama v. Garrett, pp. 769-776

18. The Modern Debate over Racial Equality (10/24/2022)

A. Brown and Its Legacy

  • Notes on the Background to the School Desegregation Case, pp. 1099-1105
  • Brown v. Board of Education, Bolling v. Sharpe, and Notes, pp. 1105-1112
  • The Southern Manifesto and Notes, pp. 1112-1114
  • Brown and the Original Understanding, pp. 1114-1121
  • Brown II and notes, pp. 1121-1122
  • Four Decades of School Desegregation, pp. 1122-1136 (skim)
  • Parents Involved in Community Schools v. Seattle School District No. 1 and Notes, pp. 1273-1303

B. Anticlassification and Antisubordination

  • Korematsu v. United States and Notes, pp. 1136-1143
  • Oyama v. California, pp 1143-1144
  • Loving v. Virginia and Notes, pp. 1144-1157

19. What Constitutes Discrimination “based on” Race? (10/25/2022)

A. The Reach of the Suspect Classification Doctrine

  • Johnson v. California and Notes, pp. 1157-1158
  • Note on Child Custody and Placement Policies, pp. 1158-1160
  • Note on Government Collection and Use of Racial Data, pp. 1161-1163
  • Note on Four Concepts of Race, pp. 1163-1165
  • Brown v. Oneonta and Notes, pp. 1209-1211

B. Discriminatory Intention

  • Early Cases on Racial Discrimination, pp. 1165-1169
  • Griggs v. Duke Power Co. and Notes, pp. 1169-1174
  • Washington v. Davis and Notes, pp. 1174-1179
  • Village of Arlington Heights v. Metro Housing Development Corp. pp. 1179-80
  • Personnel Administrator of Massachusetts v. Feeney and Notes, pp. 1180-1186
  • McCleskey v. Kemp and Notes, pp. 1203-1209

20. Affirmative Action (10/31/2022)

  • Notes and Bakke v. Regents of the University of California, pp. 1215-1225
  • Richmond v. J.A. Croson Co., and Notes, pp. 1225-1239
  • Adarand Constructors v. Pena and Notes, pp. 1240-1242
  • Note on Originalism and Affirmative Action, pp. 1242-1247
  • Grutter v. Bollinger and Gratz v. Bollinger, pp. 1247-1273

21. Sex Classifications and Sex Equality (11/01/2022)

  • Frontiero v. Richardson and Notes, pp. 1336-1344
  • United States v. Virginia and Notes, pp. 1366-1389
  • Personnel Administrator of Massachusetts v. Feeney and Notes, pp. 1402-1411
  • Geduldig v. Aiello and Notes, pp. 1412-1416
  • Notes and Nevada Department of Human Resources v. Hibbs, pp. 1419-1427

22. Other Suspect Classifications and Fundamental Rights (11/07/2022)

A. Alienage and Other Suspect Classifications

  • Cases and Notes on Alienage and the Equal Protection Clause, pp. 1306-1326
  • Other Suspect Bases of Classification, pp. 1438-1442
  • Cleburne v. Cleburne Living Center and Notes, pp. 1442-1453

B. Equal Protection and Fundamental Rights

  • Notes and Harper v. Virginia Board of Elections, pp. 1742-1749
  • Note on Protecting the Poor Through the Fourteenth Amendment, pp. 1749-1753
  • Dandridge v. Williams and Notes, pp. 1753-1761
  • San Antonio Independent School District v. Rodriguez and Notes, pp. 1761-1775
  • Note on the Enforceability of Positive Rights, pp. 1782-1789

23. Modern Substantive Due Process: “Privacy,” Sexual Autonomy or Tradition? (11/08/2022)

A. Reproductive Freedom

  • Historical Roots of Fundamental Rights Adjudication, pp. 1455-1461
  • Griswold v. Connecticut and Notes, pp. 1461-1482
  • Note on The Reach of Griswold, pp. 1482-1485
  • Note on Tradition as a Source of Fundamental Rights, pp. 1485-1494

B. Sexual Orientation

  • Romer v. Evans and Notes, pp. 1595-1605
  • Lawrence v. Texas and Notes, pp. 1605-1626
  • Note on Sexual Orientation, Equal Protection, and Heightened Scrutiny, pp. 1630-1636

24.  Sexual Orientation and Religious Liberty (11/15/2022)

  • Note on Same Sex Marriage and United States v. Windsor, pp. 1636-1645
  • Obergefell v. Hodges, pp. 1645-1676
  • Bostock v. Clayton County, Georgia, pp 1676-1688
  • Masterpiece Cakeshop v. Colorado Civil Rights Commission,  p. 1688
  • Fulton v. City of Philadelphia, pp 1689-1696
  • Note on Backlash and Social Movements, pp. 1696-1699

25. Abortion and Sex Discrimination (11/14/2022)

  • Roe v. Wade and Notes, pp. 1494-1513
  • Abortion and the Equal Protection Clause, pp. 1513-1520
  • Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization (on Canvas)

26. The Second Amendment (11/21/2022)

  • District of Columbia v. Heller and Notes, pp. 1703-1740
  • New York State Rifle and Pistol Association, Inc. v. Bruen (on Canvas)

27.  Judicial Reform (11/22/2022)

  • Materials TBA