Curriculum Guide · Courses
Congress and the Administrative State
Professor Victoria Nourse
J.D. Course 1017 | 3 credit hours
Almost every course in law schools teaches students about courts. This course teaches about Congress, the President, and agencies, as well as courts. Using case studies, the course introduces students to the government as a whole—Congress, the President, and the Supreme Court—and how each institution fits into the constitutional scheme. Much of the course’s focus is statutory interpretation, teaching interpretive skills applicable to all statutes, whether civil rights or tax or securities law. This course also introduces students to the rules governing Congress (e.g., the filibuster) and how and whether these rules should affect how legislation is passed and how courts interpret statutes. Because much statutory interpretation occurs under the President’s watch, the course also introduces students to rules governing administrative agencies, and explains how courts apply special rules of statutory construction to agency regulations. Almost all the classes will also include participatory exercises, in which students and the instructor will be public actors resolving difficult issues of public lawmaking. Thus, we shall imagine how lobbyists, legislators, administrators, and judges approach issues in their distinctive ways—and how the constitutional structure of public lawmaking influences and constrains these actors. The exercises are designed to teach practical skills as well as public law reasoning and substantive knowledge.
This course is a first-year elective. First-year day students select an elective offered in the spring.