KC Johnson

History 7448: U.S. Constitutional History

History 7448

American Constitutional History

Tuesdays at 6.55pm

This course explores American constitutional history from the Revolutionary Era to the present day.


  • Research Paper (50%)
  • Participation (35%)
  • Case Readings (15%)

Required Books:


January 29. From the Revolution to the Constitution

February 5. Constitutional Debates

  • Military Power: Brutus No. 8; Federalist No. 8 (Charles C.)
  • Nature of Senate: Brutus No. 16; Federalist No. 62 (Jennifer L.)

February 14 (transition day). The Congressional Era

February 19. Slavery, the Presidency & the Constitution


  1. Ableman v. Booth: Xavier H.
  2. Dred Scott: Peter D.
  3. Ex parte Merryman: Nicholas L.

February 26. Reconstruction


  1. Slaughterhouse Cases: Adrianna M.
  2. U.S. v. Cruikshank: Yevgeniy M.
  3. Civil Rights Cases: Sean O.

March 5. The Gilded Age & the American State

  1. Bradwell v. The State: Melissa R.
  2. In re Debs: Donna R.
  3. Yick Wo v. Hopkins: Miriam S.

March 12. Corporations & the Constitution


  1. United States v. E.C. Knight (with Harlan dissent): John T.
  2. Downes v. Bidwell: Iliya T.
  3. Muller v. Oregon: Jenna V.

March 19. The Progressive Constitution


  1. Meyer v. Nebraska: Charles C.
  2. Adkins v. Children’s Hospital: Peter D.
  3. Black & White Taxicab Co. v. Brown & Yellow Taxicab Co.: John D.

Spring Break.

April 9. FDR & Civil Rights


  1. Korematsu v. United States: Charlene F.
  2. West Virginia State Board of Education v. Barnette: Mirlaine D.

April 16. Constitutional Liberalism


  1. Reitman v. Mulkey: Xavier H.
  2. Milliken v. Bradley: Jennifer L.
  3. Regents of Univ. of California v. Bakke: Nicholas L.

April 23. The Clinton Years


  1. Bethel School District v. Fraser: Adrianna M.
  2. Morrison v. Olson: Yevgeniy M.
  3. Sony v. Universal City Studio: Sean O.

April 30. Gay Rights & the Constitution


  1. Windsor v. United States: Melissa E.
  2. Varnum v. Brien: Donna R.
  3. Lofton v. Sec’y of Department of Children and Family Services: Miriam S.

May 7. The Roberts Era


  1. District of Columbia v. Heller: John T.
  2. NFIB v. Sebelius: Iliya T.
  3. Citizens United v. FEC: Jenna V.

May 14. Reading Day.

May 26. Final Papers Due by 11.59pm

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