Supreme Court, racial classifications, pathologies, Presidential Order 9066, constitutional analysis, anticanon


I begin with some reflections on my own career in teaching—or, perhaps, attempting to teach—American constitutional law to generations of students from 1975 to the present. Or, more accurately, until about three years ago, when I taught introductory constitutional law for the last time. I am quite happy to no longer be teaching that course, whatever joys it did provide me in the past, for a very simple reason: I became more and more frustrated by the demands of coverage, i.e., the duty to take up a variety of topics—including attendant cases and collateral materials—and the unfortunate certainty that what I was in fact doing was, at best, the barest skimming of rich surfaces. As a matter of fact, I am quite certain that I covered far less material than most of my colleagues, but that did almost nothing to alleviate my constant feeling, freely expressed to the students, that we were in fact “racing” through the material and, therefore, doing genuine intellectual justice to almost nothing that was ostensibly being discussed. I compared the course to a college “mixer” where one engaged in several superficial conversations hoping to elicit just enough information to know whether it might be desirable to seek out further contact.