The course is one of the two basic courses in the field. It focuses on the First Amendment and addresses the Freedom of Speech, the Free Exercise of Religion and the Establishment Clause. This section of the course will approach the law as an ongoing practice of argument. It will deal not just with decisions and doctrine, but also with what lies beneath the surface--assumptions, images and emotions that structure and animate argument. It will analyze the internal conflicts and the ebb and flow of constitutional argument over time, concentrating on the last fifty years.
In class, there will be no cold calling on students and no panels. Instead, students will be encouraged to respond to questions put to the class as a whole and exhorted to challenge and criticize the instructor in a sort of "reverse Socratic" dialogue.