Introduction to the American Legal System – 5001

Fall 2020


This is an introductory course in American law, providing an overview of a wide variety of constitutional, statutory and common law legal issues.  A primary focus will be on American constitutional law: legislative, judicial, and executive powers; the legal structure of “checks and balances”among the three national governmental powers; the distribution of powers between the national government and state governments (federalism); and the constitutional rights of individuals (including rights of free speech, freedom of religion, due process, and equal protection).  We will also examine the American system of litigation: the structure of the court system, the jurisdiction of federal (national) and state courts, and the litigation process. We will also address some common law substantive topics in American law including torts and contracts. Students will have the opportunity to learn how to read and interpret American legal materials, to do legal research within the legal system, and to write an analytical legal memorandum.