Approved byFaculty Senate.
University Studies Flagged Course Proposal
1. Department or Program Political Science and Public Administration
2. Course Number 421
3. Semester Hours 3
4. Frequency of Offering Once Annually
5. Course Title The First Amendment
6. Catalog Description
A seminar class on one of the most contentious constitutional amendments. Topics include: freedom of speech, free exercise of religion, separation of church and state, and freedom of association. Required: POLS 120 and POLS 320, or consent of instructor. P/NC option.
7. This is an existing course previously approved by A2C2 Yes
8. This is a new course proposal No
9. University Studies Requirement this course would satisfy Oral Communications Flag
10. Department Contact Person for this course Matt Bosworth
11. General Course Outcomes
This course is designed to acquaint students with basic principles and applications of First Amendment law. Just as importantly, it is designed to enhance their liberal arts skills: reading, writing, thinking, and speaking clearly.
12. Course Outcomes
Students will sign up to present one side of an oral argument regarding two landmark 1st Amendment cases (two students per case). Each student will present this side as if arguing before the Supreme Court, with the rest of the class (and perhaps the professor) acting as Justices and asking questions of the "lawyer." Students are expected to extensively prepare ahead of time, but as with actual Court arguments, most of the presentation will involve "thinking on ones feet." These presentations will count as twenty percent of the total course grade, each presentation counting for ten percent.
As noted in section a), this presentation is intended to partially simulate an actual Supreme Court oral argument. Although political science does not have a strictly unified methodology, this type of argument is certainly one of the legitimate ways of presenting information orally.
The audience (the students and professor) will play the role of Supreme Court Justices, with a final vote after both "lawyers" have presented. The vote, however, will not play a large role in determining the grade, which will solely be determined by the professor.
I will critique both students presentations and give them oral and/or written feedback. After the class presentation, the final vote will represent student feedback, along with the actual questioning. I will make notes regarding each presentation, with suggestions for improvement, and give them to the student, along with the actual grade. Since there will be two presentations, students will hopefully use the feedback from the first presentation in the second.
There is no single technology used in political science for speaking (PowerPoint, etc.). Students likely will use the Internet and library to do research for their presentations, but otherwise technology will not be involved.
Through this oral presentation, students will gain a greater appreciation for the types of arguments that are persuasive in this field. Regarding evidence and documentation, students will likely cite previous cases (precedent) for the side that they take.
Political Science 421: The First Amendment
Office Hours: MWF 10:00-11:00 A.M., W 12:00-2:00 P.M., TR 8:15-10:45 A.M. in Minne 123.
Office Phone: 457-5009
email: email@example.com (checked regularly)
Note: If this schedule does not work for you, please let me know and we'll make an alternate arrangement.
"Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people to peaceably assemble and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances." The full text of the First Amendment only consists of one sentence of forty-five words. For well over one hundred years of Americas history since the Founding, the First Amendment (like nearly all the others) was virtually ignored by lawyers, scholars, and even the Supreme Court.
Today, however, the First Amendment is an integral part (some might even say the centerpiece) of what the Constitution means. If you ask people on the street, "What does it mean to be an American?" many might answer, "It means you can say what you want, believe what you want, and do what you want." Regardless of the merits of this response for civic health, it is clear that it is rooted in core First Amendment thinking. In fact, polls show that well over ninety percent of Americans accept the principles of freedom of speech and freedom of religion, at least in the abstract.
Despite the near-consensus approval of First Amendment values, however, freedom of speech and religion face challenges both from the left and right. Liberals (or, more accurately, progressives, including some feminists) have faulted current broad interpretation of the Amendment for devaluing equality, tolerance, and full participation of marginalized groups such as racial minorities and women in society. The First Amendment, they argue, only serves as a cloak for hate speech intended to wound, not debate, and a shield for pornography, an instrument of womens oppression. Cultural conservatives share this animus toward pornography (although for slightly different reasons), but also worry about increasing media portrayals of violence on television, movies, and the Internet. Finally, they claim that, at the same time that the Court has allowed sex and violence to saturate the culture, perversely, the Court has disarmed the religious, not only in public schools but in public generally, from making a case for morality.
These types of debates will provide the focus for this course. Where do we draw the line between core constitutional freedom and necessary order? What values (and whose values) does the First Amendment really serve?
I have three central goals for this course. First, this course should provide you with an overview of First Amendment doctrine regarding both freedom of speech and freedom of religion. Second, as this is a liberal arts course, it should build your critical thinking skills. In other words, you will have to think, speak and write clearly, skills which are key parts of a good university education. Third, hopefully this class will help you reflect further and more deeply about the meaning of American democracy and citizenship, and your role and responsibility in it.
Required readings are drawn from the following books, which are available for purchase at the campus bookstore, along with a course reading packet also available at the bookstore, plus any class handouts or readings on reserve in the WSU library.
Political Science 421 Course Reading Packet.
Sullivan, Kathleen M. and Gerald Gunther. First Amendment Law. New York: Foundation Press, 1999.
For those of you more (or less) technologically inclined, there are a few websites specifically devoted to Supreme Court decisions, including constitutional law and the First Amendment. The best that I have found is located at: www.law.cornell.edu/. The Court itself has just launched a website at www.supremecourtus.gov. Also, Lexis-Nexis (available through the WSU Librarys website) is a great resource. However, if you find others that you like, Id be quite interested in hearing about them.
A combination of assignments will determine your grade in this class. There will be two examinations, a midterm and a final. The exams will be weighted roughly equally, each counting for 35% of the total grade, with a slight preference for the final. Furthermore, you will make two oral presentations counting for twenty percent of your grade (more on this below). Also, class attendance and discussion participation will count for the final ten percent of your grade (most useful in deciding borderline grades). Note: if for some serious reason you cannot take an exam or make the oral presentation at the scheduled time period, you are expected to let me know immediately, subject to my permission. Any deviation from this policy may result in either grade reduction or failure, subject to my discretion.
University Studies Course Designation:
This course is designated as a University Studies Oral Communications Flag course. As such, you are expected to:
a)earn significant course credit through extemporaneous oral presentation;
b)understand the features and types of speaking in this discipline;
c)adapt your speaking to field-specific audiences;
d)receive appropriate feedback from teachers and peers, including suggestions for improvement;
e)make use of the technologies used for research and speaking in the fields;
f)learn the conventions of evidence, format, usage, and documentation in this field.
To accomplish these objectives, students will sign up to present one side of an oral argument regarding a landmark 1st Amendment case (two students per case). Each student will present this side as if arguing before the Supreme Court, with the rest of the class (and perhaps the professor) acting as Justices and asking questions of the "lawyer." Students are expected to extensively prepare ahead of time, but as with actual Court arguments, most of the presentation will involve "thinking on ones feet." Students will do two presentations, each counting for ten percent of the total course grade. Details will be provided later.
Readings: Sullivan and Gunther, pp. 1-13; New York Times v. Sullivan (pp. 73-79); J.S. Mill, "On Liberty" (handout); West Virginia v. Barnette (packet).
Readings: Sullivan and Gunther, Ch. 1, Section 2.
Readings: Sullivan and Gunther, Cantwell v. Connecticut (pp.56-57); Chaplinsky v. New Hampshire (p.57); Terminiello v. Chicago (p.65); Feiner v. NY (pp.65-67); Cohen v. California (pp.60-64).
Readings: Sullivan and Gunther, Beauharnais v. Illinois (pp. 71-73); Ch.1, Section 4, Letter D; Delgado and Stefancic, "Words that Wound" (handout).
Readings: Sullivan and Gunther, Ch. 1, Section 5, Barnes v. Glen Theater (pp. 219-222); Erie v. Paps A.M., U. S. v. Playboy Entertainment Group (both in packet); MacKinnon, "Pornography, Civil Rights, and Speech" (reserve).
Readings: Sullivan and Gunther, Ch. 1, Section 6; Lorillard Tobacco v. Reilly (packet).
Readings: Sullivan and Gunther, Ch. 2, Section 1.
Readings: Sullivan and Gunther, Ch. 2, Section 2, pp. 233-257; Hill v Colorado (packet).
Readings: Sullivan and Gunther, Ch. 2, Section 2, pp. 257- 278.
Readings: Sullivan and Gunther, Ch 2, Section 2, pp. 309-320.
Readings: Sullivan and Gunther, Ch. 3, Section 3; Nixon v. Shrink Missouri Government PAC (packet).
Readings: Sullivan and Gunther, Ch. 3, Section 2, pp. 369-378, 392-398; Board of Regents of the University of Wisconsin v. Southworth, Boy Scouts of America v. Dale, California Democratic Party v. Jones (all in packet).
Readings: Sullivan and Gunther, Ch. 4, Section 1.
Readings: Sullivan and Gunther, Chapter 4, Section 2; West Virginia v. Barnette (packet).
C. Establishment of Religion
Readings: Sullivan and Gunther, Chapter 4, Section 3; Santa Fe I.S.D. v. Doe, Tangipahoa Parish Bd. Of Ed. V. Freiler, Mitchell v. Helms (all in packet).
(Thursday, May 2nd at 1:00 P.M.)