Wednesday, February 24, 2016
I am continuing to enjoy my Constitutional Law immersion, which, like most enjoyable learning experiences is causing me to think about things in a fresh way. This is somewhat surprising-- all lawyers take Con Law, and the overwhelming majority undoubtedly take the full sequence. At my law school that was, more or less, a course on governmental powers, a course on civil rights and civil liberties, a course on criminal procedure and a course on federal courts. I took some other stuff too-- like many law students it seemed to me that it would be important to know all that stuff. Even if it wasn't it was still interesting, and I am glad I did it. When I was asked to take the assignment I started in my re-reading The Federalist Papers, because I thought that would be an interesting way in. It hasn't contributed to what I'm talking about every Wednesday night, but it has informed my approach somewhat. The other text that I thought would be useful was my law school copy of Lawrence Tribe's American Constitutional Law. This has been a real eye-opener. Copyright 1978, but even so I reckoned that on the core basics it would get me through. Instead what I have found is that the nearly 40 years that have passed have been amazingly transformational in constitutional jurisprudence. Back in 1978 the United States was experiencing what seems to me to have been the peak of Presidential power, and we have been moving away from that peak since Nixon got on the helicopter.