Everything You Need to Know About Constitutional Law

Michael Stokes Paulsen is the rare professor of law that actually understands the U.S. Constitution, and he has just posted a terrific article over at the Witherspoon Insitute’s website Public Discourse. It is the piece I’ve been waiting for. It was my great advantage to have learned about the Constitution while studying political science, so I was able to avoid becoming confused about it while attending law school.

This article is both fun (for me, especially) and educational. Here is the text introducing the piece:

Reading and understanding the Constitution is not an especially complicated intellectual exercise. It takes lawyers, judges, and law professors to turn it into something difficult and convoluted.

Here are his first three paragraphs:

It’s final exam time at the nation’s law schools. That means it’s time for professors to concoct fiendish hypotheticals for essay exams and for students to cram, trying to sort out the various three-part, two-pronged, quadruple-somersault doctrinal “tests” and “tiers of scrutiny” with which the Supreme Court’s judicial decisions have cluttered the Constitution, and prepare to spit back the doctrinal gobbledygook in some equally incoherent form on the test.

This is what passes for “Constitutional Law” in our law schools these days: a hopeless mash-up of confusing half-truths, quarter-truths, and outright untruths, taught as “law.” For the desperate law student, I offer this super-duper two-part mini-review of everything you really need to know about constitutional law: part one today, and part two tomorrow.

A warning, however: this is probably not what your professor has been teaching you. It’s an unmasking of what he or she taught—and a brief recitation of the real, crucial questions about constitutional interpretation. Using what I say here might yield you nothing better than a C, depending on the instructor. But heck—that’s better than failing. Regurgitate what follows on the test and you might just pass; learn these principles in the next fifteen minutes and you will have learned more real constitutional law than your faithfully-attending, casebook-reading peers.

Enjoy the entire article over at the Public Discourse website.

Oh, and here is part two.

Image credit: dailycaller.com.