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Obama’s Courses At U Of C Law School

From the University Of Chicago Law School Announcements, Fall 2002 (a pdf file):


In the course and seminar descriptions that follow, the number in parentheses at the end of the description represents the value of the course or seminar in course hours per quarter.


This seminar examines current problems in American race relations and the role the law has played in structuring the race debate. How have past and present legal approaches to racism fared? Has the continued emphasis on statutory solutions to racism impeded the development of potentially richer political, economic, and cultural approaches, and if so, can minorities afford to shift their emphasis given the continued prevalence of racism in society? Can, and should, the existing concepts of American jurisprudence provide racial minorities more than formal equality through the courts? Students prepare papers that evaluate how the legal system has dealt with particular incidents of racism and that discuss the comparative merits of litigation, legislation and market solutions to problems of institutional racism in American society. This seminar may be taken for fulfillment of the Substantial Writing Requirement. The student’s grade is based on a 15 page paper, group presentation and class participation. Autumn (3) Mr. Obama.


This course considers the history, theory, and contemporary law of the post-Civil War Amendments to the Constitution, particularly the Equal Protection and Due Process Clauses of the Fourteenth Amendment. The central subjects are: the constitutional law governing discrimination on the basis of race, gender, and other characteristics; the recognition of individual rights not explicitly enumerated in the Constitution; and the constitutional distinction between state and private action. Throughout, students consider certain foundational questions, including the role of courts in a democracy, and the question of how the Constitution should be interpreted. The student’s grade in Mr. Obama’s section is based on a take home examination. The student’s grade in Mr. Strauss’ section is based on a proctored final examination. Autumn (3) Mr. Obama, Winter (3) Mr. Strauss.


This course examines the history of voting rights law in the United States, as well as the broader issues surrounding various systems of representative democracy: How should the courts balance the demands of majority rule with the desire to protect minority voices? Does the Voting Rights Act, as amended, promote minority voices, or simply segregate them from the larger political discourse? Are there alternative models, such as cumulative voting, that would better serve majority and minority alike? Do systems of more “direct democracy”—such as ballot initiatives and referenda—empower voters or undermine a more thoughtful deliberative process? And does voting even matter in a complex, modern society where campaigns are dominated by money and issues are framed by lobbyists? The student’s grade is based on a substantial paper. This seminar may be taken for fulfillment of the Substantial Writing Requirement. Winter (3) Mr. Obama.



Independent Research. 499. Second- and third-year students may earn course credit by independent research under the supervision of a member of the faculty. Such projects are arranged by consultation between the student and the particular member of the faculty in whose field the proposed topic falls.

Special rules regarding credit, permission, and requirements for submission of written work are set forth in the regulations of the Law School. Students wishing to register for 499 credit should consult the Registrar or the Dean of Students.

Before being granted permission to register for 499 work the student must submit a précis of their proposed study to the supervising faculty member. In considering possible fields or topics for such projects, students may wish to consider seminars described above but listed as not offered in the current year and to consult the instructors concerned as to the possibility of independent work in those fields. Students are encouraged to submit exceptional papers for publication in the Law Review or in other legal periodicals.

Following is a listing representative of faculty members’ preferred areas for supervising written work…

Barack H. Obama: equal protection; due process; voting rights.

It would seem Mr. Obama had a bit of a one track mind.

(If you haven’t already, check out the examination questions Mr. Obama created for his Constitutional Law III students, in the related articles linked below.)

This article was posted by Steve on Thursday, October 2nd, 2008. Comments are currently closed.

One Response to “Obama’s Courses At U Of C Law School”

  1. heather08 says:

    These courses also appear to be what used to be (and maybe still is) called a “gut.” Open book, take-home or no exams. I note the other guy teaching the same class in a different quarter gives a proctored exam. I guess Obama didn’t want to lose any future votes by giving someone a bad grade. I must say, I am disappointed in the U of Chicago, which always seems to pride itself on holding to traditional high standards.

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