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Hutton Honors College

 — Indiana University

SPEA-S 339: Honors - Legal History & Public Policy
Professor Paul Helmke*
Section 14533 MW 1:00-2:15pm
F 8:00am-12:00pm
PV 277


"Those who make peaceful revolution impossible will make violent revolution inevitable." - John F. Kennedy (March 13, 1962)

What do we do when we disagree with a decision or action taken by our government? How do we push for change? While the U. S. Constitution values "freedom of expression" and "due process of law," concerns for national security and the preservation of internal order have led to legislation and executive actions that threaten or ignore these civil liberties. Court cases reviewing these conflicts have supported different values at different times for different reasons. This course will examine how the American legal system has dealt with political dissent and protest, and managed change, from the 1790s through the 1960s. The focus will be on arguments for and against revolution, insurrection, nullification, secession, civil disobedience as well as the role of the Constitution, the Bill of Rights (particularly the First and Second Amendments) and subsequent Amendments during times when national security and internal order appear to be threatened.

Readings and class discussions will deal with controversies arising from the American Revolution; Alien and Sedition Acts; opposition to the Civil War, World War I, World War II, and Vietnam War; the "Red Scare" and McCarthy Era; slavery; and the Civil Rights movement. We'll watch and discuss documentaries about different protest movements, and bring in speakers with experience from different protest movements.

I'll draw on my experiences as a student activist in the 1960s as well as my 21 years of active legal practice, 12 years as mayor, and 5 years as head of a national advocacy group, to supplement the cases, readings, documentaries, speakers and participatory activities to help the class better understand how this history and the legal and policy debates are still relevant today.

Section 4371
Section 4371