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Constitutional Law

The U.S. Constitution creates, empowers, and or recognizes the key institutions of American government, while also imposing limits on the ways in which those institutions may exercise their powers.

The old but fairly terse text itself and very substantial body of case law developed by the U.S. Supreme Court touch on virtually every area of American public life, including abortion, capital punishment, elections, federalism, gun control, freedom of speech and the press, health care, immigration, impeachment, racial justice, religious freedom, war, and gender, sexual orientation, and gender identity discrimination.

In their constitutional law courses, scholarship, public commentary, and legal advocacy, Cornell Law faculty bring to bear insights drawn from economics, history, philosophy, political science, and the crucible of litigation. In addition to the required survey course, Cornell Law students can study in greater depth such issues as campaign finance, free speech, church-state separation, and foreign constitutional systems. Clinics and practicum—in areas like the death penalty, the First Amendment, and LGBTQ+ advocacy give students the opportunity to learn by doing, in some cases by representing clients for whom the stakes are literally life or death.

Example Courses

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