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About This Course

You will be introduced to the fundamentals of the federal constitution, including the institution of judicial review, the limitations on federal judicial power, the constitutional roles of the legislative and executive branches, due process of law, and individual rights under the Constitution and the Bill of Rights. Possible future trends of the U.S. Supreme Court will also be explored. This course will focus on individual civil liberties and 42 U.S.C. section 1983 claims, emphasizing redress for violations of the Fourth, Fifth, and Eighth Amendment rights of the US Constitution.

This course is designed to provide an introduction to the United States Constitution and its Amendments. Students will study the allocation of powers, the system of checks and balances, and the concepts of individual rights, liberties, and protection. Through this course students will also develop a better understanding of the Bill of Rights.

Course Objectives

Participants will demonstrate the following skills through successful completion of all required coursework and assignments:

  • Explain the general provisions and principles of the U.S. Constitution
  • Discuss judicial review and its limitations
  • Identify the elements of federal jurisdiction
  • Examine the scope of national congressional power in commerce, taxing, and spending
  • Discuss intergovernmental immunities
  • Explain the scope of state power
  • Describe the scope of executive power in domestic and foreign arenas
  • Explain substantive due process
  • Discuss procedural due process
  • Examine the difference between the traditional approach to equal protection and the new approach to equal protection
  • Identify the criteria for determining what groups are entitled to equal protection
  • Explain the fundamental rights underlying equal protection 
  • Discuss the rationale behind the protection of speech
  • Examine the essential provisions of the doctrine of free speech
  • Discuss how the clear and present danger doctrine relates to freedom of expression
  • Identify what standards determine whether a form of symbolic conduct is protected by the First Amendment
  • Discuss the basics of the freedom of association and belief
  • Explain how the doctrine of freedom of expression applies to the local forum, commercial speech, defamation, obscenity, freedom of the press, and political speech.
  • Explain the establishment clause
  • Discuss how the establishment clause pertains to public aid to religion
  • Discuss how the establishment clause pertains to religion in schools and establishment outside of schools
  • Examine the concept of the free exercise of religion
  • Discuss the state action doctrine
  • Discuss the power of Congress to enforce the thirteenth, fourteenth, and fifteenth amendments

Expectations

Students will be expected to spend an average of 10 hours per week reading and completing writing assignments. Please note that extensions will not be granted for this online course. 70% is the minimum passing score on all tests and assignments for this course. Students may consider working ahead in the curriculum if they have the time. Coursework in Constitutional Law is equivalent to 45 clock hours of study.

Prerequisites

Successful completion of Paralegal I and II, or equivalent, or experience.

Course Books

Required textbooks for this course:

  • Constitutional Law in a Nutshell, most recent edition, St Paul: West Group by Barron & Dienes.

Highly Recommended Legal Resources:

  • Oran’s Dictionary of the Law, 4th Edition, by Daniel Oran. Clifton Park: Delmar Cengage Learning
  • WESTLAW, legal research access, available for the duration of the course for only $89. Order Online Now

For more information, call The Center for Legal Studies at 800-522-7737, or visit our Online Store to order.

Reading Assignments for Lesson Topics:

Lesson One: The Constitution and Judicial Review
Read Twice, employing the use of a highlighter with your second reading The Constitution of the United States, which occurs immediately after the Table of Cases in Constitutional Law in a Nutshell (Nutshell)
Read the Introduction and Chapter 1 in Nutshell

Lesson Two: The Allocation of Powers

  • Read Chapters 2, 3 & 4 in Nutshell

Lesson Three: Due Process

  • Read Chapter 5 in Nutshell

Lesson Four: Equal Protection

  • Read Chapter 6 in Nutshell
  • Read the following cases: Plessy v. Ferguson, 163 US 537, 16 S.Ct. 1138, 41 L.Ed. 256 (1896) Brown v. Board of Ed. Of Topeka, 347 US 483, 74 S.Ct. 686, 98 L.Ed. 873, 53 O.O. 326 (1954)

Lesson Five: Freedom of Expression

  • Read Chapter 7 in Nutshell

Lesson Six: Freedom of Religion; State Action; Congressional Legislation in Aid of Civil Rights and Liberties

  • Read Chapters 8, 9 & 10 in Nutshell

Writing Assignments:

For each lesson you will submit a 50-point short answer assignment covering the topics in that lesson’s reading.

Exams:

You will complete two exams. Each is worth 100 points. The Mid-term exam is to be submitted with your Lesson Three Assignments; the Final exam is to be submitted with your Lesson Six Assignments.

Bulletin Board Assignments:

You will also post your responses to three class participation assignments each worth 20 points. These assignments are referred to as Bulletin Board Submissions.

All lesson objectives, assignments, and tests can be found in the Lesson Materials.

Grading

Your grade will be based on your completion of six writing assignment assignments, two exams, and class participation/Bulletin Board Submissions. The exams and writing assignments can be accessed from within the lesson material, or by selecting ‘Assignments’ under Activities on the Left Hand Block. You will have the opportunity to engage in “class participation” by using the Bulletin Board tool to respond to the bulletin board assignments throughout the course. Also, participating in the bulletin board assignments will enhance your understanding of the reading material.

Your final grade will be figured as follows:

  • The six writing assignments comprise 40% of your grade.
  • The two exams comprise 40% of your grade.
  • Your participation in class participation assignments comprises 20% of your grade.

Withdrawal Policy

Students may drop the course with a full tuition refund less a non-refundable $15 administrative fee if written notice is sent to The Center for Legal Studies by email at [email protected] by the Wednesday before class begins. Students may drop the course with a 50% tuition refund if written notice is sent to The Center for Legal Studies by email at [email protected] anytime from the Thursday before the course begins until the first Thursday of class. After the first Thursday of class, no refunds will be issued.