POL 312 Law and Social Change (3 credits)
Can courts effectively generate social change? What are the advantages and limits of using the law to effect social change? We use cases and case studies to examine the relationship between law and society. In the last forty years, groups attempting to effect social change have turned to the courts as an effective source of authority when they find themselves disadvantaged or rejected by the larger political system. To what extent has this approach been successful? To what extent is it desirable? While constitutional law emphasizes the logic of the opinion, this course will look beyond the decisions of the Supreme Court, focusing instead on the implementation process and the actions of lower courts in interpreting the Supreme Court’s decisions. We will look at problems of implementation, the actual benefits received by affected parties, and the relationship between the federal government, the states, and public opinion. Case studies include: school integration, abortion, pay equity, death penalty, and single-sex unions. Satisfies the Writing-Intensive overlay requirement.