CONSTITUTION STUDIES

The Constitution and Moot Court class is an academically rigorous, classically oriented dive into the content and application of constitutional law.  Students will emerge from this class having experienced two major changes.  First, they will gain an understanding of constitutional law that reaches far deeper than the textual content of the document.  They will be deeply familiar with key constitutional controversies that have colored the way we interpret and apply the Constitution today.  Second, they will become skilled in the art of reading, dissecting, interpreting, applying, and responding to difficult legal and philosophical ideas, whether those ideas are written or spoken.  

 

As with all IEProgram classes, teachers of Constitution and Moot Court are committed to using empirically based, outcome driven teaching models to help students experience visible learning and progress that they can track.  The ultimate goal of the class is to foster critical thinking, analytical skills, and intimate familiarity with legal systems that will enable students to become engaged citizens and better people.

As core tenants of the class, students study a number of texts and theory, and then apply that learning in a Supreme Court simulation.

Theory and Text

Students begin the year by reading through the entire Constitution and crafting an index that maps out its basic content to help them navigate it throughout the rest of the course.  During this first unit, students also participate in simulations, debates, and games that require them to apply their understanding of basic government structures right away.

After completing their index, students begin reading, discussing, and debating the same writings that the founders read while drafting the Constitution.  Students are challenged by thinkers such as Montesquieu, Locke, Hume, and Rousseau along with Hamilton and Madison’s Federalist Papers.  As students evaluate the ideas they read about, they also see how those ideas were sown into the fabric of our government and how they have subsequently been integrated into United States common law.

Supreme Court Simulation

One of the most exciting parts of the class is the opportunity for students to participate in a high level Supreme Court simulation called Moot Court.  Students participate in mini Moot Courts almost every week, along with multiple full Moot Courts throughout the year.  During these simulations, students evaluate real cases adjudicated throughout US History.  By participating in these cases, students gain first hand experience of important constitutional controversies we still grapple with today, such as the interpretation of the commerce clause, Congress’ role in regulating elections, and the various theories of constitutional interpretation, such as originalism and living constitutionalism.

This simulation is key to the success of our students. Active learning is a crucial component in a student's education, and that can be difficult to construct when studying philosophical concepts. The Moot Court simulation allows student to apply what they learn in an effective and practical way.

At the end of the class, we want students to walk away confident that they can engage in the world of constitutional law.