Mar 31, 2023  
OHIO University Undergraduate Catalog 2022-23 
OHIO University Undergraduate Catalog 2022-23
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POLS 4015 - Constitutional Politics

The United States Constitution confers authority on the various branches of government in order to empower the federal government. At the same time, the Constitution is designed to restrain public officials in their exercise of institutional power to prevent abuse of government power. In Madisonian theory, the separation of powers system works when one branch challenges another in its exercise of power. Those who challenge another may be motivated by politics or partisanship, but they couch their challenge in constitutional language. Hence ‘constitutional politics’ serves as conflict that is healthy for the American constitutional order. The system is in trouble when public officials fail to engage in conflict; if one branch asserts excessive power and another branch does not challenge it, then the system runs into the danger of tyranny, which James Madison defined as the accumulation of powers in one branch. Course examines historic and recent constitutional issues to assess whether each branch has lived up to its responsibility of checking the others. If any branch has been remiss, we will explore why.

Requisites: 9 Hours in POLS
Credit Hours: 3
Repeat/Retake Information: May be retaken two times excluding withdrawals, but only last course taken counts.
Lecture/Lab Hours: 3.0 lecture
Grades: Eligible Grades: A-F,WP,WF,WN,FN,AU,I
Learning Outcomes:
  • Identify the role of separation of powers theory in the U.S. Constitution.
  • Identify the sources of power for the three branches of government.
  • Read government documents, including Supreme Court cases, congressional hearings and executive papers.
  • Recognize the role of politics in constitutional arguments.

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