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Wednesday, December 30, 2015

There weren't many people on the Buffalo State campus this morning, but I was able to do what I needed to get done. Jackie, the Political Science Department secretary, was in, and she showed me where the copy machine is, and where my (shared) office is. She handed me a sheaf of papers and directed me to the various buildings where I was issued a faculty ID, a classroom key, a key to the technology lectern and a parking pass, so I'm pretty much ready to roll. It didn't feel like much of a ritual, but that's what it was-- the unofficial first day where I get a rough lay of the land.

What I'm thinking is that we will march through Article I, Article II and Article III, along with the corresponding sections of the Federalist Papers and some illustrative cases, then get into federalism. It seems to me that law school Constitutional Law classes focus chiefly on judicial review and the powers of the federal judiciary, even when the actual topic is something different, like federalism or the scope of the powers of Congress or the President. I want to see if I can avoid that, and make the class more about the scope and limits of governmental powers generally. Along the way we will necessarily touch on things like how to read a case, and the principles of common law, and that should be a reasonably full semester. I have an issue with teaching ConLaw as though it is a species of Federal Jurisprudence-- the latter is a much more narrow subject (although as complex and intricate as a Swiss watch). We are going to talk about what it means to say that ours is a government of laws, and the differences between laws and rules and customs, and I think it will be exciting.

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