Legal Studies 39D, Section 1

Current Political and Moral Conflicts and the U.S. Constitution (2 units, LG)

Mr. Alan Pomerantz
Wednesday 11:00-1:00, 151 Social Sciences Building, Class number: 18869

The debate about politics and morals has moved steadily into the realm of the Supreme Court, but people differ on what exactly the role of the Court should be. Some have strongly argued that the Court's interpretation and application of the Constitution have adversely affected our fundamental rights and usurped powers from other branches of government. This position claims the Court has created an "Imperial Judiciary," a supreme authority, not a supreme court. Others argue as strongly that the Court has acted properly to find and protect evolving fundamental freedoms and individual rights in the face of unprecedented political and governmental efforts to limit them. This position claims the Court has, in fact, fulfilled the role envisioned for the Court by the Constitution. This seminar will follow the Socratic method in examining moral and political issues that have a constitutional basis and the Court's participation in the debate on topics such as transgender and gay rights (including gay marriage); “sincerely held religious beliefs” as a defense to compliance with anti- discrimination laws; abortion; privacy; limitations on speech including "hate" speech, college speech codes, trigger warnings and micro-aggressions; and euthanasia. We will read Supreme Court cases, as well as political and legal commentary from across the political spectrum. The prime focus of the seminar is to encourage students to develop their critical thinking skills. Accordingly, students are expected to develop, support and defend their own views and opinions regarding the relevant topics.

Instructor Bio

Alan J. Pomerantz, Esq., is a practicing lawyer and Senior Counsel at Pillsbury Winthrop Shaw Pittman, a major international law firm. A graduate of the NYU School of Law, he also studied under the Fulbright Program in Chile and received an advanced legal degree from the University of Amsterdam (Netherlands). He has lectured and taught widely, including at the NYU School of Law, NYU College of Arts and Science, the University of Amsterdam, Columbia Graduate School, and the University of Concepcion (Chile). He has published numerous articles and contributed to several treatises on legal topics. Mr. Pomerantz is recognized by several peer publications as one of the world's leading lawyers. He is also the recipient of the 2015 Fulbright Commission Global Citizens Award, and the 2016 Global Award for his legal work. Mr. Pomerantz has participated in important and controversial matters affecting individual rights, including the right of public artistic expression, the right of privacy for acts of consenting adults, and numerous free speech cases.

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