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LAW The United States Senate as a Legal Institution

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LAW 537

The United States Senate as a Legal Institution

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[ Academia ] [ Regulatory & Policy ] Litigation/ADR: General

Why it is relevant for ...

[ Academia ] [ Regulatory & Policy ] as a Related Elective for those interested in Constitutional Law : Students with a public interest or policy focus are likely to be concerned with federal legislation and will want to know something about the place of the U.S. Senate in the constitutional framework. This course examines current controversies surrounding the Senate, its relationship to the Supreme Court and the Executive Branch, and the legitimacy of certain institutional procedures. It also considers the constitutional responsibility of senators in voting on legislation, be it an issue of health care or campaign finance reform.

General course Description:

This course will familiarize students with major, and/or emerging legal and constitutional issues concerning the U.S. Senate. In so doing, it will examine: 1) the Senate's nature as a complex legal institution, and 2) the issue of the Senate's legitimacy in the context of the current and largely unprecedented criticism of the Senate from all parts of the political spectrum. This first portion of the course will consider institutional-legitimacy issues facing the Senate, including the appointment of senators to fill vacancies as well as disputes concerning Senate rules and procedures such as the filibuster and holds. The second part of the course will explore how the Senate interfaces with the Constitution and the Supreme Court. It will examine how senators should regard the issue of constitutionality in voting on legislation, be it campaign-finance reform, internet decency, or health care. This part of the course will also consider how senators should approach proposed constitutional amendments. The final portion of the course will review the wide range of issues that have emerged in recent years regarding the constitutional relationship between the Senate and the Executive Branch, including the increasingly acrimonious issue of the standard to apply to executive appointments under the advice and consent power. Particular emphasis on this part of the course will be given to issues that have gained greater prominence since 9/11, including the relationship between enacted, constitutional legislation and the presidential assertion of Article II powers, as well as the Senate's abdication of its Article I war-declaration power.

Course Style: A Substantive/ Perspective course looks at law from an external or non-traditional standpoint.

Course Frequency: Offered once a year

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