How does the Constitution, an 18th-century document, relate to and dictate the laws of a 21st-century society? Through the analysis of past cases, including those concerning slavery, the Cherokee Indians, and detainees at Guantánamo Bay, Justice Stephen Breyer examines the Court’s arduous—and often turbulent—journey to establish its legitimacy as guardian of the Constitution. Having earned the public’s confidence, he expounds how the Court can continue promoting a workable democracy going forward.
Who Would Have Thought. . .The Unlikely Legal History of the 14th Amendment, 1866–1890
Instructor: Jonathan Lurie
October 5, 12, 19, and 26, November 2 and 9, 2006
Click here for a PDF of the Syllabus.
Over the past twenty-five years, American constitutional history has been de-emphasized in favor of "trendier" subjects at the nation's universities and colleges. As historian Gordon Wood has noted, "most universities have long since given up teaching undergraduate courses in American constitutional history, and most of those few remaining professors who do teach it are retiring and not being replaced with constitutional scholars” (New York Review of Books, February 23, 2006).
Staff and Advisors
The Institute for Constitutional History currently offers a variety of programs that enhance the teaching of Constitutional Studies and encourage scholars to increase their involvement in the field:
The Institute for Constitutional History sponsors or co-sponsors a variety of events during the academic year. Here is a partial list of upcoming and recent events:
Explore all the New-York Historical Society-created curriculum materials, which align with New York State Learning Standards and contain lesson plans and primary sources (documents, photos, maps and more). Materials are available digitally and/or for purchase in hard copy, as indicated in the list below.
When Barack Obama was elected President, people across the globe anticipated the coming of a new age of American liberalism and bipartisanship. Yet two years after his inauguration, the nation is experiencing a conservative resurgence of dramatic proportions. With Republicans consistently opposing the president’s main platforms and Democrats accusing the president of being too conceding, political disharmony is crippling the legislative process.