This seminar studies federal legislation, how it is made (pre-enactment) and how it is interpreted by courts (post-enactment). The pre-enactment portion of the course looks at the fundamentals of federal lawmaking. How does an idea become law? What are the key stages of the congressional process, including the budget process and reconciliation? the course uses current events as background, and for assignments (e.g., past courses have coincided with health care reform, the bank bailout (the “TARP”). The post-enactment portion of the course is concerned with judicial construction of the meaning of the words congress uses, and how theories of interpretation, such as purposivism or textualism, reflect or support theories of the separation of powers. Do judges make law? should they? How do the realities of the legislative process affect the task of statutory interpretation? the course also provides an overview of interpretive techniques, including the canons of statutory construction, and the use (or abuse) of legislative history as an authoritative source of legal meaning. The grade for the course is based primarily on three substantial writing assignments: (1) a judicial opinion, (2) a review and analysis of a statute, and (3) a memorandum in support of or in opposition to a legislative proposal. For each assignment, the student prepares two drafts, the first for comment and the second for a grade. Students interested in legislation, public policy, administrative law, lobbying, or writing should consider this course.
Req. PP: Successful completion of the course satisfies the writing requirement of Academic Rule X.3.f (Applied Legal Writing Portfolio).
Upper-level course for: