Law students pursuing a Juris Doctor (J.D.) degree in constitutional law take courses focusing on issues related to constitutional governments and the history and basis of the U.S. Constitution. Many constitutional law courses are based on specific rights granted by the Bill of Rights of the U.S. Constitution.
Some common concepts covered in constitutional law classes include:
- Supreme Court
- Death penalty
- Constitutional amendments
- Constitutional interpretation
- State and national power
- Due process
List of Constitutional Law Courses
A required course in the first or second semester of most J.D. programs, this course covers the basis for the U.S. Constitution. Ideas like separation of powers and the authority of congress, the presidency, and the courts are studied in depth. The history of the U.S. Constitution is also covered. This course lays the foundation for much of what law students study throughout their degree programs.
The fundamental workings of the U.S. Supreme Court are examined in this course. Students learn how cases are chosen and decided by the U.S. Supreme Court. This course is useful to constitutional law students who may have to bring a case before the high court one day. This course may be taken in the second year of study.
The First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution grants the freedom of religion and association. This course covers issues of what is protected and what is not protected by this amendment. Current and historic legal cases related to this amendment are reviewed, including major opinions of the U.S. Supreme Court. This course is generally taken in the second year of law school as an elective course.
The Fourteenth Amendment grants equal protection and due process to those accused of crimes. This constitutional law course covers issues of discrimination in legal cases and an accused person's ability to have a fair trial. The amendment is dissected into clauses and each clause is studied individually. Students generally take this course in the second year as an elective.
Death Penalty and the Constitution
This course focuses on the use of the death penalty in the United States and its constitutionality. Students analyze the cruel and unusual punishment prohibition of the Eighth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution as it applies to the death penalty. This course may be taken in the second year of law school.
Comparative Constitutional Law
In this course students study the approaches countries use to protect individual rights. In comparing constitutions and legal systems of different societies, students learn commonalities and differences that are useful in understanding U.S. law. This course is an elective course.