JULY 22 – JULY 28, 2018

The Constitution, The Courts, and Conservatism

Washington, DC
Application Deadline
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Part of our 7-week Political Studies Program. Apply for this course or our full summer program. $500 stipend, plus course materials and housing.

In Federalist 78, Alexander Hamilton famously wrote that the federal courts “may truly be said to have neither force nor will, but merely judgment,” and thus would be, relative to Congress and the President, the part of government “least dangerous to the political rights of the Constitution.”

At first glance, these seem rather straightforward and perhaps even self-evident statements. But for generations, they have spurred significant disagreement—not just between rival ideological groups, but even within what we now consider modern conservatism.

In this course, students will explore debates and disagreements among conservatives and libertarians over how to best understand the Constitution generally and the judicial power specifically. We will consider debates over originalism, natural law, traditionalism, and the burgeoning debate between advocates of “judicial restraint” and advocates of “judicial engagement.” To that end, we will read not just modern authors but also their historical antecedents.

This course will consist of two sessions per day over a one-week period. Each morning, students will participate in seminar discussion led by legal expert Adam White. Each afternoon, they will hear from a leading scholar or practitioner on that individual’s area of expertise. Past guest speakers have included Randy Barnett (Georgetown Law School), Alan Gura (Gura PLLC), and Ed Whalen (Ethics and Public Policy Center), among others.

Time and Location
This one-week course will take place in Washington, DC. It is a full-time commitment for Monday–Friday, with required sessions in the morning, afternoon, and some evenings.




Check back soon to see a more detailed syllabus with topics and reading selections!

Recommended Reading:

To learn more about other important figures in constitutional law, we encourage you to visit ContemporaryThinkers.org, a website covering the ideas and influence of pioneering intellectuals of the twentieth and twenty-first centuries. Sponsored by the Hertog Foundation, ContemporaryThinkers.org includes sites devoted to Walter Berns, Martin Diamond, Herbert Storing, and many others.

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