Skip to content

Fall 2021 Seminar

The Constitution of the Child

Prerequisites: None

Exam Type: No Exam

This seminar will explore the place of children in American constitutional law. We will study how the Supreme Court conceives of children and children’s rights within a liberal democratic polity. Some questions we will address are: In what ways are children conceived of as persons and citizens in their own right, and in what ways are they viewed as objects of parental rights or as future adults and citizens? How do race, gender, and income inequality affect our constitutional understanding and treatment of children? What is the family’s place in the constitutional structure of government, and what is children’s place within the family? Consideration will be given to the role of education in a liberal democracy; the importance of family pluralism; the dangers of indoctrination; the reasonable scope of parental rights; the place of affirmative rights for children; and children’s interest in civic and political life. Doctrinal areas covered will include substantive due process, equal protection, free speech, free exercise of religion, procedural due process, the Fourth Amendment, the Eighth Amendment, and, if time permits, Article III.