Course Descriptions & Student Learning Outcomes

AJ 220 - Constitutional Law (3)

  • Prerequisite or Corequisite: AJ 101

This course provides an overview of the development of the doctrines of federalism, separation of powers, and checks and balances theories as well as judicial review. Specific topics include sources of federal legislative power, commerce, taxing, spending, presidential and military powers, power of states to regulate and tax interstate commerce, preemption, the due process clause of the Fourteenth Amendment, equal protection, and First Amendment rights. Selected Supreme Court cases interpreting the U.S. Constitution are also examined.

3 hrs. lect. per week

Student Learning Outcomes

Upon successful completion of AJ 220, the student will be able to:

  • Understand from a historical perspective, the social and political context within which the framers crafted the U.S. Constitution;
  • Demonstrate a basic understanding of the authority and jurisdiction of the Supreme Court and the tremendous power it possess through the process of judicial review and Certiorari
  • Describe the organizational make up of the American court system and define such terms as: jurisdiction; appeal; standing; nonjusticiable; and the Ashwander rules
  • Explain the concepts of constitutionalism; federalism; separation of powers; and political question doctrine;
  • Comprehend the enormous and far-reaching effect the United States Supreme Court has on American jurisprudence whenever it renders decisions reflecting its interpretation of the various tenets of the Constitution;
  • Articulate a basic understanding of the how various Supreme Court interpretations of the Commerce Clause as greatly affected the interaction between the federal and state governments;
  • Explain the various provisions of the constitutional amendments (i.e. the Fourth, Fifth, Sixth and Eighth) that influence the criminal justice system, including conducting constitutional searches and seizures, right against self-incrimination, right to counsel and a fair trial, and bail, fines and punishment;
  • Describe the basic freedoms guaranteed by the First Amendment, including but not limited to, freedom of expression and religion and have an elemental understanding of the Supreme Court's efforts to balance these individual rights with the collective needs of society;
  • Understand the Court's use of the due process clause of the Fourteenth Amendment to selectively apply provisions of the Bill of Rights to the states;
  • Demonstrate a basic understanding of the equal protection clause and its complex and three-tier interpretive model used by the Court in its interpretations of such issues as: what is equality, what constitutes forbidden discrimination, and the like; and
  • Appreciate the tension that exists between national security and civil liberties in today's times.

Back to Main List