This course is designed to afford students an opportunity to engage in a critical examination of the important and complex issues involving the constitution in war times, both legal and political, especially as it relates to fundamental principles such as “checks and balances” and “separation of powers”. In the wake of the terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001, the country witnessed the rise of the imperial presidency. Some have argued that the other branches virtually abdicated their responsibilities to check the boundless power exerted by a single branch of government. A further examination will disclose, however, that such arrogation of power by the executive branch is a familiar phenomenon especially when national security is threatened and public fears are heightened. To provide context to this exploration, a historical perspective beginning with President Abraham Lincoln’s suspension of the writ of habeas corpus during the Civil War continues on throughout the 20th century to the 21st century when former President George W. Bush labeled any person, including citizens, “enemy combatants”; thereby stripping them of all constitutional rights unilaterally and thus undermining the rule of law.
The primary focus is, however, on the treatment of non-citizens post-9/11 and the use of immigration laws as a counter-terrorism enforcement tool that many commentators have argued is not only unconstitutional but simply bad policy. This nation’s immigration laws—once only a footnote to national security concerns—have become a major component of national security strategies for combating terrorism. And as the political debate rages on Capitol Hill over the various elements of a comprehensive immigration reform package, arguing for more stringent immigration initiatives has become not only divisive but an effective rhetorical tool for the enactment of harsher, more restrictive and less humane measures. With the new administration, however, hope springs eternal for a kinder, gentler approach to immigration reform. But immigration is one area that, politically-speaking, makes for strange bedfellows. Will the courts continue, in effect, to sanction a harsh approach towards non-citizens in the so-called “war on terrorism”? One thing seems fairly certain, and that is, immigration as a counter-terrorism tool of enforcement will likely continue.
This is a seminar course. Students will select their individual paper topics early in the semester in consultation with the instructor and thereafter commence the research and draft writing tasks. Also, the various topics covered in class will be subjects of a series of comment papers throughout the semester. Class participation is always anticipated. Near the end of the semester, students will make oral presentations relating to their selected paper topics. Collegial input and critique is expected. Grades received on the comment papers together with the seminar paper will comprise the final grade in the course.
A paper written for this seminar may be used to satisfy the Advanced Writing Requirement.
Current & Previous Instructors:
|This course is not currently scheduled.|
Last offered Fall 2010.