PS 225: The Study of Law

PS 225: The Study of Law

Please answer 5 of the following 7 questions, noting which you answer on the top of your exam. Each question is worth 20 points. Experience has shown that the best answers tend to be around 200 words long, though if you’re particularly concise, this can of course vary. Don’t filibuster.

In crafting your answers, your foremost priorities should be to (1) answer all aspects of the question, and (2) demonstrate mastery of the relevant course material. Do not take any knowledge for granted. Nothing is too remedial: if you don’t show us that you know something, we can’t give you points for knowing it.

A. Philosophers of law argue that all rights have a three-part (or “triadic”) structure. Briefly explain the structure and each of its parts, illustrating the structure with respect to the First Amendment right of free speech.

B. In establishing a Constitutional right to privacy, the drew on the notion of “unenumerated rights.” Explain the concept, its relation to the 9th Amendment, and how it can be used to establish rights not explicitly guaranteed in the Constitution or Bill of Rights.

C. In crafting the majority opinion in Griswold v. Connecticut (1965), Justice Douglas cited a motley assortment of Amendments, including the 1st, 3rd, 4th, and 5th. Briefly summarize what Douglas took from each. Note: It is perfectly acceptable to answer this one with bullet points instead of an essay.

D. Explain the facts and Constitutional significance of Employment Division v. Smith (1990). In ruling for Employment Division, how did the court interpret the First Amendment’s Free Exercise Clause? What was the alternative interpretation given by the Religious Freedom Restoration Act of 1993?

E. In the 20th Century, the Supreme Court shifted from collective to individual interpretations of the Second Amendment. Explain the two interpretations, how these interpretations relate to the Amendment’s prefatory and operative clauses, and the logic the Supreme Court used in shifting precedent from one to the other.

F. Briefly explain the doctrine of originalism as a way—or a set of ways—of interpreting the Constitution. Critics of originalism have focused on two main potential problems with the doctrine. Briefly explain each , and how it challenges the authority of originalism.

G. Consequentialist justifications for punishment focus on the consequences of punishment for several groups: offenders, would-be offenders, victims, and would-be victims. Explain the logic of justifications for each of these groups. As with Question C, bullet points are fine here.

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