In this course, the student will learn about the complexities of the legislative branch by examining the U.S. Congress in the American political system. This course will focus first on the history of Congress and the tension between Congress' competing representation and lawmaking functions by examining the structure of Congress, its original purpose, and the factors that influence how members of Congress act. The course will then take a careful look at the internal politics and law-making processes of Congress by learning the external competing interests that shape legislative outcomes and why Congressional rules are designed as they are. Upon successful completion of this course, the student will be able to: explain how Congress was structured by the Framers of the Constitution; discuss how Congress is shaped by the U.S. Constitution; demonstrate an understanding of the importance of bicameralism in a representative body; compare and contrast features of the House and the Senate; explain the evolution of Congress as a modern institution; explain how congressional candidates run for office; discuss the importance of political parties in the recruitment of congressional candidates; identify the advantages and disadvantages of incumbency; define reapportionment and redistricting; assess the role of money and fundraising in congressional elections; compare and contrast how members of Congress fulfill their duties in their home districts and in Washington D.C; compare and contrast the leadership systems used in the House and Senate; describe the roles and functions of legislative leaders and political parties in Congress; name and describe the various types of congressional committees; explain why the committee system is central to an understanding of the legislative process; describe the major steps in a bill becoming a law; evaluate the influence of constituents, colleagues, political parties, and interest groups on congressional decision-making; assess the relationship between Congress and the president and its many permutations over time; analyze the pros and cons of united and divided government; explain the influence of the presidency on congressional elections; discuss the role of congressional oversight as it relates to both the presidency and the bureaucracy; identify the role played by Congress as it relates to the judicial branch; analyze the complicated relationship that exists between members of Congress and the media; analyze the role and performance of Congress in the budgetary process, economic policy, and foreign policy; explain the complications that arise as a result of shared foreign policy powers between Congress and the president; discuss how congressional policymaking has responded to post-9/11 governance; discuss the criticism of Congress, and assess the methods put forth to reform the institution. (Political Science 331)
Criminal Law and Judicial Process
Survey of law, crime, general principles of criminal responsibility, elements of major crimes, punishments, conditions or circumstances that may excuse criminal responsibility or mitigate punishment, the court systems of Louisiana and the US, basic concepts of criminal law. Includes an examination of the role, function, and structure of courts and their relationship to the criminal justice system.
Criminal Law uses a two-step process to augment learning, called the applied approach. First, after building a strong foundation from scratch, Criminal Law introduces you to crimes and defenses that have been broken down into separate components. It is so much easier to memorize and comprehend the subject matter when it is simplified this way. However, becoming proficient in the law takes more than just memorization. You must be trained to take the laws you have studied and apply them to various fact patterns. Most students are expected to do this automatically, but application must be seen, experienced, and practiced before it comes naturally. Thus the second step of the applied approach is reviewing examples of the application of law to facts after dissecting and analyzing each legal concept. Some of the examples come from cases, and some are purely fictional. All the examples are memorable, even quirky, so they will stick in your mind and be available when you need them the most (like during an exam). After a few chapters, you will notice that you no longer obsess over an explanation that doesn’t completely make sense the first time you read it—you will just skip to the example. The examples clarify the principles for you, lightening the workload significantly.
These supplemental materials are meant to act as a companion to https://open.umn.edu/opentextbooks/textbooks/criminal-law. The materials include PowerPoints, open-book quizzes, guided notes for students, and reviews for the midterm and final exam. Both the midterm and final exam are available upon request (along with answer keys for quizzes and guided student notes).
This seminar looks at key issues in the historical development and current state of modern American criminal justice, with an emphasis on its relationship to citizenship, nationhood, and race/ethnicity. We begin with a range of perspectives on the rise of what is often called "mass incarceration": how did our current system of criminal punishment take shape, and what role did race play in that process? Part Two takes up a series of case studies, including racial disparities in the administration of the death penalty, enforcement of the drug laws, and the regulation of police investigations. The third and final part of the seminar looks at national security policing: the development of a constitutional law governing the intersection of ethnicity, religion, and counter-terrorism, and the impact of counter-terrorism policy on domestic police practices.
This class examines the role of science in the US environmental policymaking process. It investigates the methods scientists use to learn about the natural world and the way scientific knowledge accumulates, the treatment of science by advocates and the media, and the role of science in legislative, administrative and judicial decision making. It considers how other political systems use science, in an effort to put the US approach in comparative perspective.