Studying Law at Roma Tre

Academic Year 2017-2018

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Spring Semester (March 1 - May 31, 2018)


The Trump Presidency and the Future of the US Supreme Court 2018

Prof. Giorgio Resta


The Seminar starts on March 6
Monday and Tuesday, 14:15-16:00, Classroom 11 (Tommaseo Building - via Ostiense 139)

Course Description

The seminar will deal with American constitutional law under the Trump administration, and it will focus in particular on one of the most important and unique institutions of the U.S. legal system: the Supreme Court. In the first part, the emphasis will be on the challenges faced by American democracy as a result of the election of President Trump, as well as on the role of the judiciary as custodian of American freedoms. In particular, the attention will be devoted to the US Supreme Court, with the aim of understanding the impact of the new presidency on its composition and political orientation. Historical development, institutional features (composition, jurisdiction, access to the court, proceedings before the court, etc.), techniques of decision-making of the court will be analyzed in detail. In the second part of the seminar, the attention will be shifted on the case law of the Supreme Court, with the aim of better understanding the peculiar role played by the Supreme Court within the US legal process. In particular, we will discuss the impact of the appointment of new judges on a set of controversial issues, like gun rights, marriage equality and gay rights, reverse discrimination, abortion, campaign funding, mass surveillance and freedom of speech.

Develop a better understanding of American constitutional law and namely of the institutional structure of the U.S. Supreme Court and its impact on the development of the U.S. legal (and political) system. Reflect on the challenges faced by contemporary democracies in a time of rise of populism.

Course Learning Activities
The course consists of a series of lectures, followed by classes on the US Supreme Court case-law that are meant to encourage interactive student participation. 

Assessment Tools
Student evaluation will be based on class participation and a final paper.

Attendance Policy
Class attendance is compulsory; students are expected to read the materials provided for each class.

Course Texbook
Materials will be distributed in class and uploaded on the e-learning platform.

Monday and Tuesday, 14:15-16:00, Aula 11 (Edificio Tommaseo)
Class hours:
After each class


The Trump Presidency and the Future of the US Supreme Court

Reading List

I. American Constitutional Law and the Trump Presidency
March 6
The Trump Presidency and the US constitutional order
S. Griffin, Trump, Trust, and the Future of the Constitutional Order, 77 Md. L. Rev. 161 (2017)
J.R. Yengibaryan, The Institution of Presidency in the USA, 33 Giornale di Storia Costituzionale 175 (2017)
Note, Executive Power, 131 Harv. L. Rev. 934 (2018)
March 12
Checks and balances: the federal judiciary
Intro to the US Legal System
State of Washington v. D.J. Trump, 9th Circ., 8 February 2017
Trump v. Hawaii, 9th Circ., 22 Dec. 2017
R. Rotunda, The Confirmation Process for Supreme Court Justices in the Modern Era, 37 Emory L. J. 559 (1988)
S. Breyer, The workings of the US Supreme Court, 45 Ottawa L. Rev. 565 (2014)
March 13
Methods of Interpretation and the legacy of A. Scalia
W. Brennan, The Constitution of the US: Contemporary Ratification, 27 South Texas L. Rev. 433 (1986)
W.J. Rehnquist, The Notion of a Living Constitution, 54 Texas L. Rev. 693 (1976)
T. Marshall, The Constitution’s Bicentennial: Commemorating the Wrong Document?, 40  Vanderbilt L. Rev. 1337 (1987)
J. Purdy, Neo-liberal Constitutionalism: Lochnerism for a New Economy, 77 Law & Cont. Prob’s 195 (2014)

II. The Trump Presidency and the Supreme Court as policy-maker: contested issues
March 19 Abortion and privacy
Roe v. Wade
Planned Parenthood v. Casey
Audio: Planned Parenthood
March 20
Gay rights and omosex marriage
Lawrence v. Texas
Obergefell v. Hodges

Audio: Obergefell
March 26
Freedom of speech and political campaigns
Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission
March 27
Gun Rights
District of Columbia v. Heller

McDonald v. City of Chicago
March 28??
National security and surveillance
Smith v. Maryland
Clapper v. Amnesty International



Giorgio Resta
 Purdy Neoliberal Constitutionalism (3rd class)

Giorgio Resta
 Marshall (3rd class)

Giorgio Resta
 Rehnquist (3rd class)

Giorgio Resta
 Brennan (3rd class)

Giorgio Resta
 Trump v Hawaii (2nd class)

Giorgio Resta
 State Washington v Trump (2nd class)

Giorgio Resta
 Working of the USSC (2nd class)

Giorgio Resta
 Appointing Judges: Confirmation Process (2nd class)

Giorgio Resta
 Executive Power (1st class)

Giorgio Resta
 Institution Presidency (1st class)

Giorgio Resta
 Griffin Trump Trust (1st class)

Giorgio Resta

 Student comments Spring 2017

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