Media Studies 24, Section 1

The U.S. Supreme Court: A Critical Appraisal (1 unit, P/NP)

Lecturer William Turner
Monday 11:00-12:00, 211 Dwinelle Hall, Class number: 46571

The seminar will examine the role of the Court in our system, its influence on American life, and several of its most consequential decisions. The decisions, some of which the students will read in the original, include Brown v. Board of Education, the “Pentagon Papers” decision, Dred Scott, Marbury v. Madison, New York Times v. Sullivan, Roe v. Wade, and Citizens United. These are decisions that every literate American ought to be familiar with. After an introduction to the Court, its personnel and practices, we will critically examine the Court’s reasoning in the cases and their historical significance.

Instructor Bio

For the last 31 years William Bennett Turner has taught courses on the First Amendment at UCB. He continues to teach Freedom of Speech and the Press, Media Studies 104A, every spring. He graduated from the Harvard Law School and then practiced law for 45 years. He argued three cases before the United States Supreme Court and many more in the lower courts. He is the author of Free Speech: Supreme Court Opinions from the Beginning to the Roberts Court (Cognella 2017), and Figures of Speech: First Amendment Heroes and Villains (Berrett-Koehler 2011). Turner has published dozens of articles in various magazines, newspapers, law reviews, and online sites, including the New York Times, Politico, Wired, the San Francisco Chronicle, and Harvard Magazine. He served as Legal Affairs Correspondent for KQED television.

Faculty web site:


No instructor approval required. I'd hope for the most diverse group possible, open to all regardless of intended major or specific academic interest.