The History of U.S. Constitutional Themes and Concepts – Description

The History of U.S. Constitutional Themes and Concepts
Ian Drake, Associate Professor of Political Science and Law, Montclair State University

Wednesdays 10am to 12pm
Sept 22, 29; Oct 6, 13 and 20. 

1)    The Power of the Supreme Court:  Judicial Review

In this introductory talk, we will consider the concept of judicial review.  What is it?  What power does it give to courts?  How have courts historically used this power?  Is it good for America?  We will review the historical roles of judges in British history and American colonial history and how judges adapted to the American constitutional system in the early years of the Republic. 

2)    The Freedom to Think: The History of Free Speech in America

 In this talk we will review the history of free speech, considering its British roots and how the United States Constitution affected notions of freedom of thought and speech.  We will also analyze how the Supreme Court has treated and altered the legal rules protecting speech and “expression” during the 20th century.

3)    The “Robber Barons” and the Trusts: The Court and Corporations

In this talk we will review one of the most notable cases of the early 20th century: the Standard Oil case of 1911.  This case revealed how American business functioned in the late 19th century and how the federal government sought to respond to the advent of a national corporation.  The Court’s approach to Rockefeller’s company still impacts governmental regulation of businesses today. 

4)    Substantive Due Process: The Most Important Doctrine You’ve Never Heard Of

In this talk we will analyze one of the most famous (or infamous) doctrines of American constitutional history: substantive due process.  It was the doctrine that decided cases from Dred Scott to Roe v. Wade and is often a feature of confirmation hearings about the judicial philosophy of nominees to the federal bench.  All lawyers know about it, but every American should know the meaning of this important constitutional doctrine.  

5)    Leviathan Lives: Federal Power and the Commerce Clause

In this talk we will learn about what is arguably the most important clause in the Constitution regarding Congress’s power: the Commerce Clause.  This clause has been the source of federal laws from the Sherman Antitrust Act to the Civil Rights Act.  Much of the federal legislation of the 20th century was premised on this clause.  Today, among liberals and conservatives, the clause is hotly debated as to whether it should continue to be a source of broad federal power. 

Dr. Ian Drake is Associate Professor of Political Science and Law at Montclair State University.  He obtained his B.A. from UNC-Chapel Hill, his J.D. from the University of Richmond, and Ph.D. in American history from the University of Maryland at College Park. His teaching interests include the American judiciary and legal system, the U.S. Supreme Court and constitutional history, the history and contemporary study of law and society, broadly construed, and political theory. His recent research interests include the history of American constitutional law and private law, particularly tort and contract law. Dr. Drake is currently conducting research on animal protection laws, First Amendment rights, and the politics of the treatment of animals used in industrial agriculture and scientific research. Prior to earning his Ph.D. in history, Dr. Drake practiced law in the areas of insurance and tort law.  His many publications include articles in scholarly journals, contributions to book chapters and book reviews.  

%d bloggers like this:
search previous next tag category expand menu location phone mail time cart zoom edit close