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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. It will also closely examine a few selected topics in constitutional public-interest litigation, including the recent federal same-sex marriage cases. Roughly two-thirds of the course will focus on 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? 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. Roughly the last third of the class will focus on suits for injunctive relief, and will feature close examination of two or three selected topics in public-interest litigation, including the recent federal same-sex marriage cases. We#ll examine how such cases are planned and litigated from the trial court to the Supreme Court, how lawyers settle on particular theories of a case, the role of amici curiae, and how constitutional litigation interacts with politics and public opinion. 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 instructor 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.