PUBPOL 495.003: Policy Seminar: The U.S. Supreme Court: Cases, Analysis, & Policy

Winter 2019
Monday, Wednesday
8:30-9:50 am EDT
Course Location
1220 WEILL
Course Section
U-M Course Number
Credit Hours

How do the judges on the Supreme Court make their decisions? What were the real issues in cases such as Roe v. Wade, and is it possible that the Court would overturn this decision? How do judges in different eras decided cases differently? The Supreme Court is a unique contributor to public policy in the United States, and as such is a frequent topic of academic and media discussion and analysis. You may be well acquainted with how some previous decisions are interpreted from a political perspective. Yet you may have been left wondering, why certain cases were decided the way that they were.

In this course, we will explore some of the most influential and significant cases, and how they came to be decided. Beginning with Marbury v. Madison, every week or two, we will analyze a new case. For each case, in addition to understanding the reasoning of the Court, we will understand the background, the political or social context of the case, the legal arguments involved, how select subsequent cases have interpreted it, and how the case influenced public policy.

The main writing assignment for this class will be a term paper will be a paper in which you undertake a forward and backward analysis of a particular Court decision. The paper will be completed in stages, with approximately one part due each month.


PUBPOL 495 (Policy Seminar) is for students currently enrolled in the Public Policy Undergraduate Program only, no exceptions. Enrollment is by permission only.