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B606 Constitutional Litigation

Description Suits aimed at vindicating constitutional rights -- for example, litigation against the police, prisons, schools, or government agencies -- are sometimes called "constitutional torts" or "Section 1983 actions# (named for the federal statute that creates the cause of action). This course will examine the law that has been developed by the Supreme Court and other federal courts to govern such cases. Most Section 1983 actions are suits for monetary damages. We will deal with such questions as: What actually qualifies as a constitutional injury? Who is the proper defendant, the government employee or the government itself? When are government actors immune from suit, and why? Can private actors ever be sued under the Constitution? And (dear to the heart of almost every lawyer) when may attorney's fees be recovered? This material has been the subject of intense political and judicial controversy over the last few decades because it determines what constitutional guarantees actually mean in practice. The course will focus on legal doctrine, but we will also discuss some larger philosophical issues as well as practical matters: What role should considerations of federalism play in deciding when government actors can be sued? How do judicial attitudes help define and shape constitutional rights? How are constitutional lawsuits planned and litigated well before they ultimately reach the Supreme Court? This course should be of interest to students who are planning to do plaintiffs' civil rights work, who plan to work for the government at any level, or who are generally interested in constitutional law. The professor has briefed and argued several constitutional cases in the U.S. Supreme Court and federal circuit courts. We will also have guest appearances by a number of judges and constitutional litigators.

Faculty L. Robel, M. Gutwein, S. Sanders

SemesterTitleFaculty
Spring 2014 - 2015Constitutional LitigationSanders, S.
Fall 2013 - 2014Constitutional LitigationSanders, S.