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Department of Politics

365. Constitutional Law
The American System

November 2011

Dr. Craig W. Allin, Instructor
Paul Waelchli, Consulting Librarian
Shawn Doyle & Laura Farmer, Writing Consultants


October 27, 2011

The following Supplements to this Course Description can be found on the Web:

Calendar & Assignments


Appellate Brief & Oral Argument

Intellectual Integrity

Good Advice

Model Appellate Brief

Legal Resources of Russell Cole Library

Briefing Supreme Court Cases

Supreme Court

Internet Research Links

Accommodating Disabilities

Documenting Sources


Instructor: Craig W. Allin, Room 307, South Hall.
Telephone: Office, (895-) 4278; Home, 895-8103; Cell: 431-1100. E-mail:

Office Hours: If I'm not in class with you, you can probably find me in my office. Feel free to make an appointment or just show up. To help you find me the current version of my schedule is available for your electronic inspection over the campus network if you are using Microsoft Outlook. This feature is not available from Outlook Express or from Outlook Web Access.

  1. On the File menu, point to Open, and then click Other User's Folder.

  2. In the Open Other User's Folder box, click Name and select Craig Allin from the list.

  3. In the Folder box, select Calendar from the pull-down menu.

Class Meetings: Consult Calendar & Assignments.


The following is available at the bookstore:

  • Lee Epstein & Thomas G. Walker. Constitutional Law for a Changing America: Institutional Powers and Constraints, 7th ed. Washington: CQ Press, 2011. ISBN 978-1-60426-516-3

The following are on reserve [or in the reference collection] at Cole Library:

  • Good, Mightier Than the Sword: Powerful Writing in the Legal Profession (1989) 808.066 G592m
  • Irons: May It Please the Court (1993) [live recordings of oral arguments before the Supreme Court] 347.73 M451
  • Louthan: The United States Supreme Court (1991) 347.7326 L936u
  • Melone: Researching Constitutional Law (2004) [Reference Desk] 342.73 M492r 2004
  • Shapo, Walter & Fajans: Writing and Analysis in the Law (1991) 808.066 Sh22wr 1991
  • UCLA Moot Court Honors Program: Handbook of Appellate Advocacy (1993) 808.066 H191 1993

Synopsis: Refer to the Calendar & Assignments which outline also contains your primary reading assignments from the case book. All reading must be completed by class time on the day for which it is assigned. Please allow yourself plenty of time to read and take notes. You will discover that casual reading of court cases is not terribly productive.

Requirements: Your grade for this course will be based upon the following factors:

    Exams and Quizzes [40%] – There will be three quizzes in the course of the term. They may or may not be announced in advance. The quizzes will preview most of the kinds of questions you will confront on the final exam. Your quiz grades will each account for 5% of the final course grade. A comprehensive final examination will count for an additional 25%. For the purposes of exams and quizzes you may bring and use unlimited notes and briefs so long as they are composed by you and written in your own hand. Exams and quizzes–-and preparation for exams and quizzes–-are conducted on an honor system. In each instance, you will be required to certify that you have not accepted aid from another student, given aid to another student, or used notes or materials except those composed by you. Study groups and group preparation for exams and quizzes are encouraged, but "group notes" or "group briefs" may not be used in exams and quizzes.

    Briefs [20%] – You will submit two briefs in the course of the term. See Briefing Supreme Court Cases. Each brief will count for 10% of the final grade. This is your best chance to pad your grade and the only assignment that may be repeated in an effort to improve your grade. In this instance "repeated" means completing the assignment a second time and briefing a different case. Repeats are averaged with the original grade to determine the final grade for the assignment.

    Appellate Brief and Oral Argument [30%] – You will prepare an appellate brief and argue a constitutional case before the class. See Appellate Brief & Oral Argument.

    Class Participation [10%] – The final 10% of the course grade will reflect my subjective evaluation of your contribution to the class. I will reward thoughtful leadership in class discussion and effectiveness in the role of justice when others are arguing cases.


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