Constitutional Law

The required course in Constitutional Law provides an introduction to constitutional law in the United States. Different professors emphasize different ideas, and not every professor will cover all of the lessons listed below. But each version of the required course is designed to deliver several general lessons, on topics such as:

  • Judicial review – the scope and limits of the judicial power to resolve constitutional issues;
  • Separation of powers – the relationship among branches within the federal government, such as presidential power to act in light of congressional power to legislate;
  • Federalism – the relationship between the federal government and state governments, including the powers of the federal government to regulate commerce and to enforce constitutional rights;
  • Equality – the scope and limits of constitutional claims to equal protection of the laws, including issues of race discrimination and sex discrimination;
  • Liberty – the scope and limits of constitutional claims to liberty of various kinds, including rights of personal autonomy and the family;
  • State action – the relationship between governmental and nongovernmental actors;
  • Method – available methods of constitutional argument, interpretation, analysis, and/or decision;
  • Context – connections among the foregoing lessons, and how these lessons can be understood within relevant historical, social, political, and/or theoretical contexts.

Other courses in the curriculum help students study more deeply, or move beyond, these ideas. Some of these additional lessons are delivered in specialized constitutional law courses and seminars (e.g., free speech, religion, comparative constitutional law, and colloquia on constitutional theory and constitutional interpretation). Others are delivered within courses and seminars that also cover non-constitutional law (e.g., procedure, legislation and the regulatory state, federal courts, law of democracy, local government law, family law, education law, national security law, immigration law, sex discrimination law, and colloquia on legal and constitutional history). In addition, the criminal procedure curriculum provides core lessons about constitutional law. The full curriculum thereby allows students to specialize in constitutional law and to integrate constitutional issues with other fields of law.

Find out more about Constitutional Law at NYU.