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Constitutional Litigation

This is a part doctrinal, part simulation course. The course is sometimes called "constitutional torts" or "civil rights litigation," reflecting its focus on one of the central ways in which constitutional claims are actually litigated: in lawsuits against public officials and local governments. The bulk of the course looks at litigation under 42 U.S.C. § 1983. We will consider topics such as what it means to act "under color of state law;" absolute and qualified immunities; government liability for the acts of individual officials; remedies for constitutional violations, including monetary and injunctive relief; and the remedial issue nearest and dearest to many lawyers' hearts: attorney's fees awards. Though we will learn the doctrine, we will do so with a focus on lawyering, both in a litigation context and in counseling clients in the shadow of litigation. A considerable amount of class time will be spent working in small groups on simulation and other exercises. Special Instructions: I ask that you limit laptop use to the classes in which we need them for simulation exercises. Elements used in grading: Class participation, written assignments, and final exam (30% class participation, 30% a 3-5 page memo involving research and due mid-quarter; 40% final exam. One-day take-home and open-book.)


Instructors for this course (Past and Present)

Pamela S. Karlan
Jason Solomon