August 23, 2004

Fall semester approaches.

Today is the deadline for getting class materials to the copy shop at the Law School, so I've got to put the finishing touches on my packet of Civil Procedure II cases. Deadlines are helpful: I'm sure I'll get it done today because today is the deadline. (They wouldn't duplicate my materials if I handed them in tomorrow?) But deadlines can cause delay too: I could have polished off the materials two weeks ago, but when I got an email saying August 23rd was the deadline, somehow the materials decided to refuse to be done until August 23rd.

Classes don't begin until next Tuesday [ACTUALLY: Thursday], here in Wisconsin, where leaving the students free to work through Labor Day is good for the state economy, given the many resorts. But elsewhere, law school classes are starting. I'm incredibly excited to hear about my son's classes at Cornell. Most law schools start their first year students with something very much like the same four courses that have started law school for as long as anyone can remember: Contracts, Torts, Criminal Law, and Civil Procedure. But there are some variations. At Cornell, they save Criminal Law until second semester and offer Constitutional Law instead. I don't know why. Perhaps because students always seem eager to study Conlaw, but the reality of Conlaw may be quite a shock. How can anyone deal with Marbury v. Madison as their first assignment? How many class hours would you need to spend on Marbury if it was the first thing you were inflicting on first years? Six?

But I have no first year students in the Fall semester. My students are always the more seasoned type. My CivPro is CivPro2, an elective for second or third year students, who have all had four credit hours of Civpro already. They are onto the ways of Civil Procedure and primed for arcana of jurisdiction and the Erie Doctrine. My other class is "Religion and the Constitution," a Conlaw 2 course that deals with the Establishment Clause and the Free Exercise Clause. I'm teaching the course as a two credit class this time, after doing three credits last year, so I need to pare down the syllabus. I don't need to rearrange it, but I'm inclined to anyway. There are so many interesting places to start with the religion cases: what inroad should we take this year?

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