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:
The Lochner Era
July 9-14, 2017
This seminar will examine major developments in the areas of constitutional law governing social and economic regulation in the so-called "Lochner Era," extending roughly from 1880 to 1940. The topics considered will include limitations placed upon state and federal regulatory authority by the Due Process Clauses of the Fifth and Fourteenth Amendments, the Equal Protection Clause, the Tenth Amendment, and the Dormant Commerce Clause, as well as restrictions on and changes in the scope of the federal powers to tax, to spend, and to regulate interstate commerce. Our aim will be to understand how these limitations and developments presented both obstacles and opportunities to regulatory reformers, how they constrained and shaped their legal strategies, and why they succeeded or failed in securing their regulatory objectives. Attention also will be given to the ways in which these developments have been understood and presented by historians, political scientists, and legal scholars; to the role that the period’s jurisprudence played in shaping labor, housing, and educational markets for women and racial minorities; and to the relationship between that period’s jurisprudence and the law and political economy of our own time. The assigned readings will include Supreme Court decisions of the period and secondary works that focus on specific topics within the period.
Tuesday nights, 6:00–8:00 p.m., September 12, 19, October 17, 24, November 14, and 21, 2017
Historically, the American press has been among the freest in the world—but that freedom has been repeatedly challenged. In 2017, with a President who has repeatedly questioned the very legitimacy of the news media, “the freedom of the press” is likely to be once again in the midst of crisis. This seminar will offer a grounding in the classical ideas and law of press freedom, with an eye toward applying these ideas to the challenges of 21st Century media technology and political change.
Mothers and the Constitution
Fridays, 2:00–5:00 p.m., October 6, October 13, November 3, and November 10
The seminar will explore the relationship between the changing practice of motherhood and the law. Using Supreme Court cases, important state cases, and supplementary historical and statutory materials we will study the many ways that constitutional interpretation and government policy have regulated the lives of different kinds of mothers and occasionally of fathers too. We will organize our discussions around four key issues: Custody and Care, Reproduction, Work, and State Support, focusing on the twentieth century; and taking into account the influence of such factors as race, religion, migration, and sexuality on developing constitutional interpretation.
The Institute for Constitutional History (ICH) is the nation’s premier institute dedicated to ensuring that future generations of Americans understand the substance and historical development of the U.S. Constitution. Located at the New York Historical Society and the George Washington University Law School, the Institute is co-sponsored by the American Historical Association, the Organization of American Historians, and the American Political Science Association. The Association of American Law Schools is a cooperating entity. ICH prepares junior scholars and college instructors to convey to their readers and students the important role the Constitution has played in shaping American society. ICH also provides a national forum for the preparation and dissemination of humanistic, interdisciplinary scholarship on American constitutional history.
Support for this seminar of the Graduate Institute for Constitutional History is provided in honor of Eric J. Wallach. The Graduate Institute for Constitutional History is supported, in part, by the Saunders Endowment for Constitutional History and a “We the People” challenge grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities.