PS 4820-01 Advanced Studies in Political Science: Theories of Judicial Interpretation

Spring Term 2014 - Class: TR 1:00-2:25 PH 205; Office Hours: MW 12:00-2:00; TR 11:05-12:00; and by appointment.

Syllabus (This syllabus is subject to change throughout the semester depending on the direction taken by the class or other exigencies.  Changes will be announced in class.)

                                                                 Click here for Current Instructions

Instructor: Clyde E. Willis, J.D., Ph.D. Office 209-A Peck Hall, Tel: 898-5457, e-mail:; Course Web address:

Office Hours: MW 12:00-2:00; TTh @ 9:30 a.m. -11:00; and by appointment. (Note: Appointments even during office hours are always helpful.)

Course Objectives: This course is designed to acquaint students with various aspects of the theories and methods of interpreting legal texts with a concentration on statutory and constitutional material.

Readings: You will be expected to read the assigned readings and be prepared to discuss, analyze and critique them in class.  Click here for the Lecture Notes. There will be short quizzes or reaction essays on several of the assigned readings, including the Lecture Notes, without prior notice.  The list of readings will be posted on this web site under "Click here for Current Instructions."  To be prepared for class and the reaction essays, answer the following questions as you read each selection:  (1) What is/are the principal interpretative strategy/ies of the interpreter? (2) What are the most significant interpretative tactics the interpreter employs to achieve the strategy/ies? (3) What supporting argument do each give in support of their position? (4) What is your critique of the interpreter’s strategy/ies and supporting argument? (5) Where would you place the interpreter on an interpretative spectrum?

Course Requirements: I will assign in-class examinations and out-of-class essays.  You are expected to attend class regularly and be prepared to discuss, analyze and critique assigned material, and complete quizzes.  Thus, part of your grade will depend on how well you attend class and perform.   You will be assigned two major essays due at midterm (35%) and final examination (45%) times.  I will also administer several in-class reaction essays throughout the term (5% each).

Grade Distribution: I will distribute grades on the cumulative points according to the following percentages:

B+ = 88-89
B = 80-87

C+ = 78-89
C = 70-77
D+ = 68-60
D = 60-67
F =

Accommodations: If you have a disability that may require assistance or accommodation, or you have questions related to any accommodation for testing, or the need for note takers, readers, et cetera, please speak with me when possible. You may also contact the Office of Disabled Student Services at 898-2783 with any questions about such services.

Writing and Speaking Requirement: You have reached a level of education that requires that you be judged by how effectively you communicate in writing and speaking as well as by what and how much you know. Just as a major requirement for success in the legal system is an ability to write and speak well, it will be a major concern in this course. Accordingly, it may be necessary for students whose writing skills need special assistance to complete several sessions with the Writing Center to fulfill the course requirements. I will not expect you to make speeches in class, but I will expect you to respond to questions and class discussions effectively.

Caveats: (1) You are responsible for keeping up with assignments and modifications of this syllabus. (2) I expect you to attend class regularly. However, recognizing the inevitable, you should associate with a classmate so you can obtain notes and information in case of an absence. I will not review class sessions with students that were absent. (3) I will penalize you for excessive absences.  You must realize and constantly bear in mind that much of the submissions you make must include class lectures and discussion which contain material that cannot be found elsewhere. There is a direct correlation between the level of grades and attendance. You may expect to be called upon to answer questions and make suggestions regarding the assigned material. (4) You must submit assigned work when due and only to me personally. Unless we make specific provisions, I will not accept submissions by electronic mail or "under the door." (5) Work submitted late will be accepted with a late penalty of five points for each day of tardiness.  (6) If you miss a required exercise with prior approval, I will permit you to take a make-up examination on the last day of the term before or after class. (7) If you need to contact me, you must try to contact me first in person at my office, and if you are unable to meet me personally, you must attempt to reach me by telephone, and only afterward by e-mail or facsimile. Do not assume that I will receive or have received a telephonic or electronic message unless I respond in kind. I will not respond to e-mails that do not identify the sender and the subject matter. (8) It is your responsibility to see that all work is submitted. I will not "run you down" to let you know that a required submission is missing.

Another important thing to remember:

Lottery Scholarship:  Do you have a lottery scholarship? To retain Tennessee Education Lottery Scholarship eligibility, you must earn a cumulative TELS GPA of 2.75 after 24 and 48 attempted hours and a cumulative TELS GPA of 3.0 thereafter. You may qualify with a 2.75 cumulative GPA after 72 attempted hours (and subsequent semesters), if you are enrolled full-time and maintain a semester
GPA of at least 3.0. A grade of C, D, F, or I in this class may negatively impact TELS eligibility. Dropping a class after 14 days may also impact eligibility; if you withdraw from this class and it results in an enrollment status of less than full time, you may lose eligibility for your lottery scholarship. Lottery recipients are eligible to receive the scholarship for a maximum of five years from the date of initial enrollment, or until a bachelor degree is earned. For additional Lottery rules, please refer to your Lottery Statement of Understanding form, review lottery requirements on the web at , or contact the Financial Aid Office at 898-2830.

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