Monday, February 8, 2010

Kramer Lectures for Schoolteachers on U.S. Constitutional History

The Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History has been posting a series of lectures by Larry Kramer, Stanford Law, which he delivered during a week-long course for school teachers sponsored by the Institute in July 2009. The Institute got up to the seventh lecture before I noticed. Presumably the rest are forthcoming.

The seventh lecture, Changes to Supreme Court Doctrine in the 1930s, is downloadable by anyone, at least temporarily. The earlier ones are available to those who register on the Gilder Lehrman's website. Registration is free.

The lectures, and Gilder Lehrman's descriptions of them, are as follows:

1. “American Legal History: Colonial Era to 1800”

How was the idea of Judicial Review developed? How were governmental checks and balances maintained before the Revolutionary War? Larry Kramer, Dean at Stanford Law School, walks his audience through this history.

2. “Madison and the Constitution”

What was Madison's background? How did he feel about the idea of democracy? What ideas did he contribute to the drafting of the Constitution?

3. “Supreme Court Controversies Throughout History”

Supreme Court decisions have often stirred controversy, from the days of Marbury v. Madison to the present. How have the two other branches of government, as well as the public, reacted to these rulings? Larry Kramer, Dean at Stanford Law School, walks his audience through this complex history.

4. “Dred Scott and the Constitutionality of Slavery”

Did the Constitution, as originally written, support slavery? Larry Kramer, Dean at Stanford Law School, discusses the various Constitutional clauses that touch upon the issue slavery, and the Supreme Court decisions, including Dred Scott, that led up to the Civil War.

5. “The Slaughterhouse Cases

The first major post-Civil-War Supreme Court decision, popularly know as the Slaughterhouse Cases, resulted in a pivotal interpretation of the relatively new Fourteenth Amendment. Larry Kramer, Dean at Stanford Law School, discusses why this decision remains relevant today.

6. “Lochner v. New York

Lochner v. New York was one of the most controversial decisions in the Supreme Court's history. Larry Kramer, Dean at Stanford Law School, walks his audience step-by-step through the knotty legal details underlying this significant case.

7. “Changes to Supreme Court Doctrine in the 1930s”

Larry Kramer, Dean at Stanford Law School, outlines the philosophical shift that occurred in the Supreme Court at the beginning of the Great Depression. Due to the economic crisis, the court moved towards allowing state and federal governments to play a more active regulatory role in people's lives.

Update: A report of Dean Kramer's delivery of “The Interest of the Man: James Madison and the Problem of Constitutional Enforcement," the Philip Pro Lecture in Legal History for 2010 at the University of Nevada Las Vegas's law school, is here.

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