W102 | The Role of the Law in American Democracy


10:00 a.m. - Noon

In Person
Williams College Faculty Club
968 Main Street, Williamstown

9/21, 9/28, 10/12, 10/19, 10/26

Five Sessions 

Limit 50 Participants


To join the wait list, please email olli@berkshirecc.edu

This course will explore the role American law has played in the establishment and development of American democracy. From the earliest days of the republic, law has both nurtured and sustained the democratic institutions which are at the heart of our great experiment. But that law was not created in a vacuum. It was the direct result of political, social and economic forces, and, most importantly, the involvement and influence of strong leaders, politicians, judges, lawyers, legislators, ordinary people and powerful people, who sought to shape American democracy by shaping the institutions of the law which created it. We will trace this development by concentrating on a number of significant themes in American legal history exemplifying this phenomenon, including the rise of representative government, the establishment of individual liberties, the regulation of business and commerce, the creation of property rights and environmental protections, the law of gender, race and sexual orientation, crime and punishment, and the concept of privileges and immunities, equal protection and due process.

This course will be delivered in five Wednesday lectures from 10 to noon on September 21, 28, October 12, 19 and 26 (with no class on Wednesday, October 5, in honor of Yom Kippur) at the Faculty Club at Williams College. A buffet lunch at the Club is available for purchase to any participant after the lecture has concluded:

  •  The United States Constitution (1787): Third Try a Winner?
  • Chief Justice John Marshall and the Imposition of Judicial Review: From Marbury v. Madison (1803) to Gibbons v. Ogden (1824) and Beyond
  • John C. Calhoun and President Andrew Jackson: Nullification and ("of"?] the Union
  • The Civil War Constitutional Amendments: Noble Accomplishment or Historic Failure?
  • Theodore Roosevelt and the Robber Barons: Applying the Breaks to Laissez Faire and Social Darwinism
  • Silent enim leges inter arma(the law is silent in wartime): John Adams (Alien and Sedition Acts), Abraham Lincoln (Suspension of Habeas Corpus), and Franklin D. Roosevelt (Japanese Internment and the Korematsu Case): What Price the Security of the State?
  • The Emergence of Modern Environmental Law in the 1970s: The Dance to the Tune of Unbridled Consumption Means the Piper Must be Paid
  • Stated Rights and Penumbra Rights: The Modern Supreme Court in Action

Philip R. McKnight, J.D., University of Chicago Law School; Williams College, A.B., trial and appellate attorney practicing in New York, Connecticut and Europe; Adjunct Professor, Williams College and the Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts teaching environmental law and environmental history; frequent OLLI lecturer on Shakespeare and the Law and United States Environmental Law: Its Historic Past, Its Uncertain Future.

Previous | Next

Sign up for our free email newsletter, and don't miss out on our great programs!
Support OLLI at Berkshire Community College and lifelong learning!

OLLI: the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute at Berkshire Community College
Partners in education with Williams College, Bard College at Simon's Rock and the Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts

1350 West Street | Pittsfield, MA 01201 | 413.236.2190 | olli@berkshirecc.edu

Powered by Wild Apricot Membership Software