Understanding the Constitution (May 2018)

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Understanding the Constitution (May 2018)

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Dispelling Myths about our Nation's Supreme Law

Misinformation about the Constitution is running rampant. Around every corner, there seems some talking head or friend on social media is claiming to give our founding document an authoritative interpretation. Thankfully, however, now you can satisfy your curiosity about the law and learn to better discern between who is making legal sense and who isn't.

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Date: Thursdays, May 10, 17, 24, 31
Time: 6:00-7:30pm
Location: Taborspace | 5441 SE Belmont St, Portland, OR 97215
$235, general registration. $375, MCLE credits (6). Email operations@pugspdx.com for MCLE credit information. Scholarships available.

French visitor Alexis de Tocqueville observed in the 19th century that, in America, important social and cultural issues ultimately become questions of constitutional law. His observation is even truer today. Topics that pervade political campaigns, headlines, and everyday discussion—racism, hate speech, police conduct, voting rights—almost always involve constitutional law. Yet media coverage is necessarily superficial. Misinformation flourishes. As a result, citizens are curious about what's included in the constitution—and what isn't.

In this course, David Schuman, former deputy attorney general of Oregon and judge on the Oregon Court of Appeals, addresses that curiosity and dispels constitutional myths.

Week 1: Why do we think a constitution is about rights? This week, we will examine what a constitution is, what one does, why we need one, why we have two constitutions, and how constitutional language is (and should be) interpreted.

Week 2: Who says you can't shout "Fire" in a crowded theater? Our topic for this week is free speech. What is its value? What is its abuse (for example, hate speech and slander)? What kind of speech can (or should) the government punish or prohibit?

Week 3: Why can guilty criminals avoid conviction? We will consider constitutional limitations on law enforcement authority to search, arrest, and interrogate suspects; constitutional limitations on the prosecution's practices during trial; and the consequences of government violation of defendants' constitutional rights.

Week 4: What now? The topic for Week 4 will be determined by the class at the end of Week 3. Possible subjects: Voting rights, discrimination, religious freedom, federalism, separation of powers, personal privacy.

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The Hon. David Schuman taught constitutional law at the University of Oregon (1987-1996) before serving as Oregon's deputy attorney general (1997-2000) and as a judge on the Oregon Court of Appeals (2001-2014). Since retiring, he is again on the UO Law faculty.