Course Details

The Roberts Court

In this seminar, we will analyze the “Roberts Court”—the Supreme Court since 2005, when John Roberts became Chief Justice. This is one of the most interesting periods in Supreme Court history, and this course offers a behind-the-scenes look at the operation of the Court, the interactions of the current Justices, and the Justices’ respective jurisprudence, all while focusing on what makes the Roberts Court distinctive. For the first several weeks of the seminar, we will study the contemporary Court: its membership, the role of lawyers and clerks, how it selects cases, and the Justices’ differing jurisprudential philosophies. For illustrative purposes, we then will examine a limited number of important Supreme Court opinions issued in the last decade, focusing on doctrinal developments in several specific areas of the law, primarily constitutional law (e.g., equal protection, freedom of speech). The 18 students in the seminar will be divided into two nine-member “courts,” and each student will be assigned the role of a particular Justice for the duration of the semester. Each week, during our class discussions, students are expected to share with the class their Justice’s judicial outlook based on an understanding of the Justice’s prior opinions and jurisprudential views. Readings will be drawn from cases, briefs, and/or law reviews. As a class, we also will listen to portions of oral arguments. Students will be responsible for classroom presentations and intensive discussion of cases, as well as a final paper. There may be an opportunity for the class to visit the Supreme Court and watch oral arguments.

Catalog Number: CONPUB 738


Course History

Spring 2017
Title: The Roberts Court
Faculty: Kastanek, Andrianna
Section: 1     Credits: 2.0
Capacity: 18     Actual: 10

Spring 2016
Title: The Roberts Court
Faculty: Kastanek, Andrianna
Section: 1     Credits: 2.0
Capacity: 15     Actual: 11