"Judging the Supreme Court"

OLLI Fall 2013 < >< >< >< >< >< >< >< >< >< > J. Emenhiser


Members of the class will judge the United States Supreme Court by examining a number of the Court's decisions from the 18th Century to the present. We shall develop evaluative criteria by discussing the Court's proper role in the tripartite sharing of governmental powers among Congress, the President, and the Judiciary and by applying the criteria to cases that we deem most interesting and relevant for concerned citizens. The cases may be selected by the class from topics of interest and relevance to concerned citizens: the powers of Congress, the President, and the Courts; religious liberty; freedom of expression; the right to bear arms; property rights; rights of the accused; cruel and unusual punishment; the division of authority among the nation, the states, and Indian tribes; voting rights; privacy; and racial, gender, and sexual equality.

The class will meet two hours each week from 3 p.m. to 5 p.m., for three weeks, October 7, 14, and 21, at the Humboldt Bay Aquatic Center, 932 Waterfront Drive, Eureka, CA.

Week 1. During the first week the class will develop tentative evaluative criteria by discussing the Constitutional framework of the Court, as well as reviewing the procedures by which it operates, and then select topics of interest and specific cases for evaluation.

Week 2. The second week the class will study four to six cases, depending upon their complexity, and consider modifying the tentative evaluative criteria. Class members will explain to each other why they evaluate the Court's decisions as legitimate or illegitimate, good or bad.

Week 3. The third week the class will study three or four more cases and conclude by summarizing its overall evaluation of the Court.

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