This course surveys key themes in American legal history from 1968 to the present, including: competing understandings of the Constitution after the civil rights revolution, e.g. debates about affirmative action, reproductive rights, and mass incarceration; new forms of U.S. military intervention around the world, and the resultant legal debates; the evolving role of lawyers as participants in social, religious, and political movements (across the political spectrum); and the regulation (and deregulation) of the economy, labor, immigration, the family, gender roles, sex and reproduction, violence, and drugs/vice in an increasingly diverse, post-industrial, technologically mediated, and globalized society. By exploring these themes, we can better understand the recent developments that produced and continue to shape many of today’s legal debates. Throughout, this course will also examine the continuing power of history in American law—e.g., the rise of originalism; debates over the legacy of slavery and Jim Crow; etc.
This course does not overlap chronologically with American Legal History (which covers Reconstruction to the New Deal). Students may find it illuminating to take both courses if offered, but neither is a prerequisite for the other and they could be taken in any order.