SYLLABUS

 

1.  Formation of the American Republic

Course theme: "The Inner Contradiction" a virtually unknown identification.

Genesis of the American Republic, long before 1776.

Declaration of Independence, and some obscure events leading to it.

The text and meaning of the Declaration of Independence, with some little-discussed emphases.

The Founding Fathers, among them some surprising figures. The Continental Congress, a great but ineffectual beginning. The Constitutional Convention, off in another direction.

The Constitution's structure and content, brilliant in concept and execution.

The ratification battle in the Federalist Papers and elsewhere, exhibiting the foresight of some Founders.

The achievement of the first Congress, showing how we benefit from it today.

The Bill of Rights and debates over its ratification, and how close approval was in some states.

Duration of download - 1:22:03     

 

2.  The American Constitutional System 

A working definition of "constitutional law."

"Originalism" and other tools of constitutional interpretation, emotional and otherwise.

Griswold v. Connecticut, illustrating federalism, separation of powers and judicial review—and judicial invention at its worst.

Kelo v. City of New London, illustrating the Supreme Court's playing fast and loose with clear constitutional language.

Judicial supremacy: primarily Chief Justice John Marshall's opinion in Marbury v. Madison, which established the principle of Judicial Review; how the Supreme Court came to be the Constitution's final arbiter and the Court the more equal branch.

Federalism: the relationship and tensions between the federal and state governments, with examples showing federal legislation affecting matters which should be within the powers of the states; how the Court thwarted Arkansas voters, and how the conservatives thwarted Congress in the Brady Law case of Printz v. United States.

Separation of powers: the relationship and tensions between the three supposedly equal branches of government — legislative, executive and judicial — with examples of where the "more equal" Court refereed battles between the other two branches and, in the bargain, expanded its own powers. Illustrations include President Truman's seizure of the steel mills during the Korean War and the House's refusal to seat a playboy Congressman.

Duration of download - 01:57:24     

 

3.  Congress and Its Powers

The source, nature, and scope of Congress's power, limited as it is supposed to be.

The Alien and Sedition Acts, and a surprising side of Thomas Jefferson.

The "bank controversy," with Washington refereeing between Jefferson and Hamilton.

The second bank of the United States, the "necessary and proper clause" and birth of the Congressional-power monster.

The Commerce Clause, steamboats, lottery tickets and home-grown wheat.

The Commerce Clause, Bobby Kennedy, "moral wrongs," hamburgers, motels, and how some Court conservatives won two small victories against the clause's tsunami.

The Commerce Clause, and buying health insurance or going to jail.

Congress's war powers, including removal and incarceration of Americans in the Korematsu case, World War II rent control in 2010, and dying (unwillingly) in Vietnam.

Duration of download - 2:00:44  

 

4.  The Presidency And Its Powers

The President's "chief executive" and "faithfully execute" power, including the appointment of czars by the "Capo di Tutti Capi," the embargo on selling arms in the Chaco War, loss of American sovereignty to the United Nations and other one-world entities, one United States Senator's attempt to prevent the U.S. from becoming just another "state" on a planet with no separate countries, and the Supreme Court's "reassurance" that treaties don't override domestic United States law.

The President as Commander-in-Chief, recently undercut by the Court in its four terrorism cases which have nearly emasculated his war-fighting powers by treating al-Qaeda terrorists like common criminals, granting them constitutional rights in defiance of controlling precedent and making the judiciary into America's ultimate generalissimo.

Duration of download - 02:09:42  

 

5.  The Judiciary And Its Powers

The source, nature, and scope of judicial power, as provided in the Constitution and federal statutes.

Limitations, if any, on judicial power.  For example, can courts render opinions that are only advisory; should they sometimes simply decide not to decide; are there questions that are moot or too “political”; can just anyone sue, and what do tomatoes have to do with the federal judiciary?

Why the "natural born citizen" cases brought concerning Obama's citizenship were doomed from the start, and why none will succeed during his current term of office.
 

Duration of download - 01:56:50 
 

 
6.  Intergovernmental Relations

The "horizontal" relationship between the states, and the requirement of "full faith and credit" in our political system of "joint sovereignty."

Constitutional Limitations on Congress's Power

Textual limitations on the power of Congress, including suspension of the writ of habeas corpus, to which alien terrorists now captured on the field of battle are entitled.

Constitutional Limitations On The Power Of The States

The few textual limitations of the power of the states, including the prohibition against impairment of contracts—which didn't prevent the Supreme Court from upholding the Minnesota Mortgage Death Act in the heyday of the New Deal.

Duration of download - 01:57:39 

 

7. Prohibitions On Both Congress And The States: The Bill Of Rights and The Fourteenth Amendment

Introduction to the Bill of Rights, which almost failed to be adopted.

By what trick of judicial legerdemain did the Bill of Rights—whose First Amendment begins "Congress shall make no law. . . ."—come to limit the powers reserved to the states under the Tenth Amendment?

The myth of "substantive" Due Process, and laundresses, killers, contraception, and abortion.

Duration of download - 02:05:20  


 

8. The First Amendment

Religion. Who's correct about "establishment of religion," the

Founders or the ACLU and the Supreme Court?  And is the "free exercise" of religion really free?           

Speech. Of the various categories of speech—political, obscene, threatening, commercial, symbolic, employee, defamatory, indecent—which are more and which less protected and why?  What about subversive advocacy?

Duration of download - 02:10:47 

 


9. The First Amendment, continued

Speech, continued.  Can you get away with shouting "fire" in a crowded theater?  Why is child pornography unproteced speech?  Are depictions of animal abuse?

 Duration of download - 01:58:58 
 


10. The Eighth Amendment

Cruel and Unusual Punishment, including why drawing and quartering is no longer acceptable, but vegetarian meals for prisoners might be required.
 

The Fourteenth Amendment, revisited

Equal protection of the law: race, and its ugly manifestations from discrimination to segregation, and the reverse racism called “affirmative action.”

Conclusion of the course, and some final thoughts about "the inner contradiction.”

Duration of download - 02:12:27 

 

 

NOTES

 

1. There is no "homework" for these lectures. However, to benefit fully from them, before accessing Lecture 1, I strongly recommend that you obtain and read a copy of the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution, and the Bill of Rights. Also, the Supreme Court opinion in Griswold v. Connecticut. You will find it useful to have all four documents available during whatever lectures you listen to.