United States Constitution Structure and Interpretation

In collaboration with Justice Clint Bolick, Associate Justice at Supreme Court of Arizona, we have designed two parts of a unique course – Part I: Structure of the Constitution and Part II: Power of Constitutional Interpretation. Justice Bolick will take weekly classes during Project Arizona for the Class of 2022. The schedule includes:

Part I: Structure of the Constitution

  1. Introduction to the U.S. Constitution: Discuss the ratification of the United States Constitution, the Bill of Rights, and the formation of the world’s first republican form of government. 
  2. Separation of Powers: Address the structure of the constitution and the division of power between the legislative, executive, and judicial branches of government. 
  3. Federalism: Why do we have state constitutions and a federal constitution? How do they govern concurrently, and what happens if there is a dispute in governance, i.e., which governing law controls?
  4. Administrative State: What is the American administrative state, and what constitutional provision gives it power?

Part II: Power of Constitutional Interpretation

  1. Judicial Review, Supremacy, and Interpretation: The federal constitution is the supreme law of the land, and federal courts must perform a judicial review and interpret its meaning. 
  2. Individual Rights Part I–First Amendment: The First Amendment protects freedom of speech, the press, assembly, religion, and government petition. Discover how courts have interpreted the First Amendment to broadly protect the expression of ideas and political discourse.
  3. Individual Rights Part II–Reconstruction Amendments: Discuss the “Second Founding” and the early interpretations and enforcement of the Thirteenth, Fourteenth, and Fifteenth Amendments.
  4. Individual Rights Part III–Modern Interpretation of the Fourteenth Amendment: Overview of the modern interpretation of the Equal Protection and Substantive Due Process clauses. Discuss how this modern interpretation has bolstered judicial law-making by the Supreme Court, e.g., Obergefell, Bostock, Roe v. Wade.  
  5. Arizona’s Constitution: The Arizona Constitution serves as the state’s foundational law and acts as a “ceiling” for individual rights. Discuss the founding of the Arizona Constitution.
  6. Individual Rights – Arizona Constitution: Discuss key rights enumerated in the Arizona Constitution that are absent in the United States Constitution.