AMERICAN CONSTITUTIONAL LAW
Handed out: Tuesday, February 8, 2000
Due: Thursday, February 17, 2000
1. This assignment has been handed out in class on February 8th and is due by the end of business on February 17th. You must let me know before the paper is due if you are unable to meet the deadline, as there will be a penalty for unexcused late papers.
2. Your paper should be typed and double-spaced. It should probably be somewhere between 12 and 15 pages long. Less is not enough and more is too much. Please remember that I am not looking for a research paper or for a comprehensive discussion of complex issues. What I would like to see is that you have taken a case or issue or perspective on some aspect of the materials we have considered, have given your topic some thought and analysis, and have presented a position or perspective in a short and well structured paper.
3. You can read and refer to articles if you like, but it is not required. You can add endnotes following the text or use a simpler form of case citation in the body of the paper. The two primary rules, from my point of view, are, first, that you must attribute whenever appropriate and provide a page citation for direct quotes, and second, that your citations must be in reasonable compliance with our rules for citation. [This is not an LRW exercise but you are expected to understand and respect the purpose of standard forms of citation just the same.]
4. I have asked Nancy Sperling in Student Affairs to assign a midterm examination number to each of you. Please identify your paper by this number and not by your name.
5. As I have indicated, you may write this1st assignment on a no downside risk basis. If you are not pleased with the result or do not want to continue with assignment #2, assignment #1 will simply not count. Once you turn in assignment #2 you will be taken to have opted and your grade will be based on the two assignments, at 50% each. Anybody [graduate students excepted] who does not write the 2 assignments will be evaluated on the 100% examination.
1. A[T]he only check upon our own exercise of power is our own sense of self-restraint.@ United States v. Butler, 297 U.S. 1 (1936) (per Justice Stone, dissenting).
Do you agree? When has judicial restraint been exercised and when has it been ignored? When do you think it should be exercised and when not? Fashion a comment around the above quote. The questions posed are just there to get you started. Illustrate your answer with an example or examples from the materials.
What is it you don=t get? What riddles and paradoxes do you see in the materials we have read? Have you had any success in explaining or understanding them? Once again fashion a comment around the above quote; the questions are meant to initiate the thinking process. Give concrete examples from the materials.
and others made earlier at CB 88:
Handed out: Thursday, March 23, 2000
Due: Tuesday, April 4, 2000
What follows are guidelines and instructions for this assignment. You may find this assignment somewhat more structured than the first, and that is deliberately so. The questions have been framed to limit the opportunities for "outside" research and keep attention focused on what we have actually discussed in the course. The questions are therefore more specific, and your paper should accordingly provide a particular response to whatever question you decide to address. I stress, again, that this is not a research assignment and that I much prefer for you to rely on Gunther & Sullivan, together with the "Library Reserve Package" [described below].
Can we be clear about conventions pertaining to citations, footnotes and "authority". A citation must be provided whenever a case name is referenced in the text. Ditto, a pinpoint reference must be given whenever words, phrases or sentences appear in "quotes". These rules are not discretionary. Whether and when a reference should be included to provide authority for a statement made in the text is more situational and, for that reason, represents a judgment call. If you're not sure about your own judgment you can ask me for guidance.
Stay within the page limit, which includes foot- or endnotes [after all, why wouldn't a page limit include the notes?] Bibliography doesn't count as it's not required.
As far as I am concerned, these assignments are about writing - the challenge of figuring out how to structure and communicate ideas. There is no doubt in my mind that everyone has ideas. Packaging those ideas in an effective piece of writing is much harder to do, and that is largely what you should be working on here. It's worth remembering that good writing is far less a question of native ability than one of discipline and "self-critical awareness" [please forgive the use of this expression].
It's true that I pointed out certain "lapses" in writing on assignment #1 that are more stylistic than a matter of rules. How any person writes is individual and I believe that individuality should be respected. I raised questions on the papers anyway, not so much to devalue an effort, engage in gratuitous criticism or even because I think there is only one way. Not so at all. I did it because I believe that you should be aware, when you play fast and loose with grammatical and other conventions of writing, that you are taking a risk. Not that I quibble with taking risks either; I simply wish you to be aware what you are doing when you test the limits of conformity. The mavens and doyens of form are likely to be much less forgiving than me, and in fairness you should know that. Do your best and enjoy assignments #2.
The "Library Reserve Package" for this assignment comprises the following:
Whitney v. California, 274 U.S. 357 (1927)
For this assignment I prefer that you stick to the package and the
casebook. Still, it would not be wise for me to try and enforce this
direction [not to mention that it is profoundly anti-intellectual]. If you
go outside the materials remember that attribution is important because it
speaks to the ethics of writing. Not only does proper attribution build
the reader's confidence in the writer, it re-inforces the honesty and sincerity
of the writer's effort. If you go outside the casebook and the package, I
would like to see who or what you consulted.