Constitutional Law Education Project
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To:       Teachers of Constitutional Law in high school

From:   Rich Kitchens, Director, Constitutional Law Education Project (CLEP) ( (Email us at:

Sub:     Newsletter #704 (December 9, 2017)

View a DAILY version of this newsletter by visiting our blog:  There we post each day’s articles that eventually makes up this weekly newsletter.

For Rich Kitchens’ legal blog regarding California education law, go to:

This is an FREE newsletter for the teachers of Constitutional Law and others interested in law-related education to high school students. Currently, it goes out to about 300 teachers. It is organized to suggest strategies in each of the six units in the Constitutional Law (version 5.04) text. Of course, you can use any of this information without our textbook as well. We have updated our student textbook (as of July 1, 2017) as a GoogleDoc that students (and teachers) can access online as well as in paperback format (now available). If you wish to obtain a free copy of the GoogleDoc, just drop us an email. (Our eight-volume Teacher’s Guides are designed to facilitate teacher use of the text and are also updated and available.)


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Please let us know what you would like to see in this newsletter as it evolves. To view past issues of the newsletter, contact Rich Kitchens at our email address. To see Rich Kitchens’ former classroom, check out:



I. Introduction to Law, the Constitution, and the Supreme Court [See TOPICS 1-10 in the 5th edition of Constitutional Law] Some recent articles that are relevant to this unit:


Access online the audio of this week's U.S. Supreme Court oral arguments:


The Next Nominee to the Supreme Court [SCITYS bkig, 12/7/17]: For all of the criticism the Trump Administration has received in recent weeks and months, one thing that Republicans almost universally agree upon is that President Trump has done well in reshaping the federal judiciary.


How Justice Kennedy Fell for a Right-Wing Meme [New Republix, 12/6/17]: In a big gay rights case, the Supreme Court's swing vote appeared swayed by the idea that Christians are the real victims of oppression


II. Defining the Political System: Federalism and Checks and Balances [See TOPICS 11-15 in the 5th edition of Constitutional Law] Some recent articles that are relevant to this unit:


California, 13 other states sue EPA over smog levels [SF Chron, 12/7/17]: California and 13 other states sued the Trump administration’s Environmental Protection Agency on Thursday for ignoring an Oct. 1 deadline to update the nation’s map of areas with unhealthy smog levels, saying the delay is endangering children and people who suffer from lung disease.


Texas Strikes Out Again: Federal Court Halts Enforcement of Yet Another Unconstitutional Anti-Abortion Law [Justia, 12/5/17]: Professor Grossman comments on a recent decision by a federal court in Texas permanently enjoining the State of Texas from enforcing an unconstitutional anti-abortion law. Grossman provides a brief background of both Texas and the law at issue and explains why the federal court struck it down. Grossman points out that the clear weight of Supreme Court jurisprudence supports the district court’s reasoning and decision.


The American Presidency [TOPIC 15]


Trump travel ban and his tweets argued at federal appeals court [Wash Post, 12/9/17]: A Trump administration lawyer defending the latest travel ban on Friday was pressed to explain how the court could separate the president’s latest tweets from the government’s assertions that its new policy does not target Muslims.





III. The Political System: Voting and Campaigns [See TOPICS 16-20 in the 5th edition of Constitutional Law] Some recent articles that are relevant to this unit:



Poll Finds Republican Voters’ Support of Trump Eroding [CNS, 12/8/17]:  Over 6 in 10 Americans disapprove of Trump’s handling of the job, according to a Pew Research poll that also found support among his Republican base is eroding. The poll, released Thursday, shows 63 percent of Americans disapprove of the president, compared with 32 percent who approve. Even a quarter of his supporters said they are unhappy with Trump’s personal style, with his use of Twitter being mentioned specifically as an example.


Democrats scour map for sleeper races [Politico,12/8/17]” In McClintock’s sprawling, largely rural Northern California district — where Donald Trump beat Hillary Clinton by more than 14 percentage points last year — the congressman’s opponents are raising cash at a surprising clip. One of his Democratic challengers, Jessica Morse, raised more money than McClintock in the third quarter. Another potential Democratic foe, Regina Bateson, saw campaign contributions increase 10-fold the day after the Virginia election, her campaign said.


Judging Roy Moore [WSJ, 12/5/16]: A GOP victory in Alabama may be more costly than a defeat.



Why Democrats had to dump Franken [Politico, 12/7/17]: A year into Donald Trump’s presidency, many voters still don’t know what Democrats stand for — so at the very least, party leaders reluctantly decided, they better take a stand against sexual harassment.


Legislation and the Legislative Process (TOPIC 20)


GOP lawmakers reconsider proposal to shrink corporate tax cut [Wash Post, 12.8.17]: Republicans negotiating a final GOP tax bill are reconsidering proposals to shrink the plan’s corporate tax cut amid ferocious opposition from Senate Republicans as well as outside conservative and business groups.



IV. Criminal Law and Procedure (4th, 5th, 6th, and 8th amendments) [See TOPICS 21-28 in the 5th edition of Constitutional Law] Some recent articles that are relevant to this unit:


V. 1st Amendment (Speech, Religion, Press and Assembly) [See TOPICS 29-33 in the 5th edition of Constitutional Law] Some recent articles that are relevant to this unit:


Puvlic School Athletes Can Protest During the Pledge of Allegiance  [Newseum, 12/7/17]: I recently was asked during question and answer periods at conferences in New Hampshire and Tennessee whether public school students have a First Amendment right to protest by kneeling during the recitation of the Pledge of Allegiance. Yes, they do, or at least they should.  The U.S. Supreme Court declared back on Flag Day in 1943 that public school students did not have to stand, salute the flag, and recite the Pledge of Allegiance in West irginia v. Barnette


When the Truth Is Unconstitutional [Linda Greenhouse in the NY Times, 12/7/17]: The Masterpiece Cakeshop case, with its free speech claim by the baker who doesn’t want to bake, received enormous attention, both before and after this week’s Supreme Court argument. And no wonder: The baker’s position that no law can force him to lend his “art” to a use to which he objects — celebrating a same-sex wedding — would, if accepted, invite a flood of “I would prefer not to” opt-outs from anti-discrimination laws meant to apply to all.



VI. 14th Amendment, Discrimination, Privacy, Working, Citizenship & Immigration [See TOPICS 34-41 in the 5th edition of Constitutional Law] Some recent articles that are relevant to this unit:


The Masterpiece Cakeshop Oral Argument and the Fatal Flaw in the Bakers’ Free Speech Argument [Justia, 12/7/17]: Professor Marci A. Hamilton reacts to the oral argument in Masterpiece Cakeshop v. Colorado Civil Rights Comm’n, in which the Supreme Court will decide whether a Colorado baker may refuse to serve a same-sex couple on the basis that doing so would violate his religious beliefs. Hamilton argues that lawyer for the baker, as well as the solicitor general arguing in support of the baker’s position in the case, took the nonsensical position that the cake serves as the baker’s speech in the couple’s private ceremony. Hamilton points out that the cake is actually the couple’s expression to each other and to those present at the ceremony, just as any other product is simply a product imbued only with the meaning intended by its purchaser.


How Clueless Straight White Guys Excuse Religious Homophobia [Slate, 12/8/18]: Why does it seem that, every time a national debate erupts about the place of minorities in American life, a gaggle of Straight White Guys with little connection to or understanding of these minorities holds forth on how they should or shouldn’t resolve their grievance about unequal treatment?



Janus Faced [Slaate. 12/7/17]:The Trump administration declares war on public sector unions.



Why “Believing Women” Has Been a Challenging Task [Justia, 12/6/17]: Professor Colb explains why it is so difficult for society as a whole to believe women’s accounts of sexual assault and harassment. Colb argues that the first step in developing solutions is for society, and particularly men, to admit that many (if not all) of these claims are true, and once that happens, then one has to either say that such behavior is acceptable or unambiguously condemn the behavior. Assuming that one rightfully condemns the behavior, Colb points out that the next step is to investigate the claims and impose whatever penalties are appropriate.



Sources used in this particular newsletter:


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