Defending Constitutional Democracy

Defending Constitutional Democracy

Professor Laurence Tribe
Fall 2019 seminar
W 3:00pm - 5:00pm in Hauser Hall Room 103
2 classroom credits

Prerequisites: By Permission (see application requirements below). Priority in admission will be given to students who will have completed at least one of the two introductory Constitutional Law courses offered at HLS by the end of Spring 2019. Students who will not have completed either of those two courses by the end of Spring 2019 and are not concurrently taking one of those courses in Fall 2019 are unlikely to be admitted. Although there are no absolute prerequisites, if you fall outside those parameters your statement of interest should provide convincing reasons to believe that you are thoroughly familiar with the materials covered by at least one of those two courses.

Enrollment: Enrollment will be limited to 12 and will be by permission of the instructor, based on written applications that include (1) the applicant’s CV and unofficial list of courses and instructors, including those still underway and those the applicant plans to take in Fall 2019, and (2) a brief (no more than 1 or 2 double-spaced pages) statement of background and interest in constitutional law and litigation (including undergraduate major, relevant pre-HLS work experience, and whatever career plans you might already have formulated). No auditors will be allowed.

All applications must be submitted electronically to Kathy McGillicuddy (, with copies to Professor Tribe ( by 5 PM on August 26th, and decisions will be made on a rolling basis beginning as early as mid-May. Students who have been admitted will be notified as soon as possible, but definitely by August 29th.

Only students who are prepared to make a firm commitment to enroll in the seminar in the event they are admitted should apply. This includes a commitment to drop whatever fall electives to which you might have been admitted in the event that those electives conflict with this seminar.

Exam Type: No Exam

Course contents: This seminar will assess the challenges for democracy under law, for human rights, and for fact-based government posed by the current political configuration and will explore ways of using constitutional law and politics to pressure and protect the republic and to reinvigorate its most enlightened aspirations.

Other course requirements: In addition to attending and participating in every seminar meeting, each student will be responsible for writing two very short (7 double-spaced pages max) responses to specific questions about the materials that I’ll pose at the start of the course or as the course progresses.

Required texts: Tribe, To End a Presidency: The Power of Impeachment (Paperback 2019). All assigned materials will be posted online and/or available in hardcopy form at Hauser 418.

Subject Areas: Constitutional Law & Civil Rights, Government Structure & Function, Legal & Political Theory, Legal History