KC Johnson

US Constitutional History (Summer 2020)

History 7448

American Constitutional History

This course explores American constitutional history from the Revolutionary Era to the present day. It will be taught partly synchronously–in two groups, during the Monday timeslot–and partly asynchronously.


  • Research Paper (40%)
  • Participation (30%)
  • Review Summaries & Case Readings (20%)
  • Asynchronous Lecture Questions/Reactions (10%)

Required Books:


July 13. Foundations

July 15 (asynchronous): Slavery, Expansion, and the Crisis of the Constitution

July 20. Reconstruction & the Gilded Age

  1. U.S. v. Cruikshank:
  2. Civil Rights Cases
  3. Bradwell v. The State:
  4. Yick Wo v. Hopkins:

July 22 (asynchronous): The Progressive Constitution

July 27: FDR & Civil Rights


  1. Korematsu v. United States:
  2. West Virginia State Board of Education v. Barnette:
  3. Meyer v. Nebraska:
  4. Adkins v. Children’s Hospital:

July 29 (asynchronous): The Cold War & the Constitution

August 3: Civil Rights & the Constitution

Michael Klarman, From Jim Crow to Civil Rights


  1. Sweatt v. Painter:
  2. Smith v. Allwright:
  3. Reitman v. Mulkey:
  4. Milliken v. Bradley: 

August 5 (asynchronous): Political Scandal & the Constitution

August 10: Battles over the Court


  1. Bethel School District v. Fraser:
  2. Morrison v. Olson:
  3. Planned Parenthood v. Casey:
  4. Romer v. Evans:

August 12 (asynchronous): Gay Rights & the Constitution

August 17. The Modern Era

cases: TBD

August 21. Final Papers Due by 11.59pm

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