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DRPS : Course Catalogue : School of History, Classics and Archaeology : History

Undergraduate Course: The Rights Revolution: American Society and the Supreme Court, c.1935-c.1990 (HIST10111)

Course Outline
SchoolSchool of History, Classics and Archaeology CollegeCollege of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences
Credit level (Normal year taken)SCQF Level 10 (Year 3 Undergraduate) AvailabilityAvailable to all students
SCQF Credits20 ECTS Credits10
SummaryThis course investigates debates surrounding a set of greatly important and unceasingly controversial issues in U.S. society, via their treatment over time by the Supreme Court. It explores the role of the Constitution in American society, considering the place of the Supreme Court as an engine, or a facilitator, of social change, through an analysis of the 'Rights Revolution'. In doing so, the course seeks to illuminate how groups and individual initiate activity, whether successful or unsuccessful, in support of a particular goal by taking Constitution-based claims to the Supreme Court.
Course description The course begins with an introduction to the American judiciary and with a chronological overview of key developments in the history of protections for individual rights and group rights between about 1935 and about 1990. The approach is then thematic, with investigations of key issues such as race, civil liberties during times of war, gender equality, defendants' rights, capital punishment, privacy, gay rights, and abortion. For each issue, the course investigates key Supreme Court cases, and it explores reactions to them among the public, among interest groups, and among politicians. The course includes a sampling of work by prominent theorists about the issue in question. The final part of the course discusses conclusions about the origins of the 'rights revolution' and its overall impact on American politics and society.
Entry Requirements (not applicable to Visiting Students)
Pre-requisites Co-requisites
Prohibited Combinations Students MUST NOT also be taking The American Civil Rights Movement (HIST10155)
Other requirements A pass or passes in 40 credits of first level historical courses or equivalent and a pass or passes in 40 credits of second level historical courses or equivalent.
Students should only be enrolled on this course with approval from the History Honours Programme Administrator.
Information for Visiting Students
High Demand Course? Yes
Course Delivery Information
Not being delivered
Learning Outcomes
On completion of this course, the student will be able to:
  1. Demonstrate, by way of coursework and examination as required, command of the body of knowledge considered in the course;
  2. Demonstrate, by way of coursework and examination as required, an ability to read, analyse and reflect critically upon relevant scholarship;
  3. Demonstrate, by way of coursework and examination as required, an ability to understand, evaluate and utilise a variety of primary source material;
  4. Demonstrate, by way of coursework and examination as required, the ability to develop and sustain scholarly arguments in oral and written form, by formulating appropriate questions and utilising relevant evidence;
  5. Demonstrate independence of mind and initiative; intellectual integrity and maturity; an ability to evaluate the work of others, including peers.
Reading List
Robert McKeever, The United States Supreme Court: A Political and Legal Analysis, Second Edition (Manchester University Press, 2016)

Robert McKeever, Raw Judicial Power (Manchester University Press, 1995)

Melvin I. Urofsky, The Continuity of Change: The Supreme Court and Individual Liberties, 1953-1986 (Belmont, CA: Wadsworth, 1991).

Mark Tushnet (ed.) The Constitution in Wartime: Beyond Alarmism and Complacency (Duke, 2005)

Annette Gordon-Reed, Race on Trial: Law and Justice in American History (Oxford, 2002)

Lori Clune, Executing the Rosenbergs: Death and Diplomacy in a Cold War World (Oxford, 2016)

Robert M. Lichtman, The Supreme Court and McCarthy-Era Repression: One Hundred Decisions (Illinois, 2012)

Peter F. Lau (ed.), From the Grassroots to the Supreme Court: Brown v. Board of Education and American Democracy (Duke, 2004)

Jeffrey L. Kirchmeier, Imprisoned by the Past: Warren McCleskey and the American Death Penalty (Oxford, 2015)

Anne-Marie Cusac, Cruel and Unusual: The Culture of Punishment in America (Yale, 2009).

Jason Pierceson, Courts, Liberalism, and Rights: Gay Law and Politics in the United States and Canada (Temple University Press, 2005)
Additional Information
Graduate Attributes and Skills Not entered
KeywordsNot entered
Course organiserDr Megan Hunt
Tel: (0131 6)50 9110
Course secretaryMiss Katherine Perry
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