March 31, 2008
Class plans for this week and beyond
Just a quick note to remind everyone about this week's class plans:
1. I will clarify any confusion I have created about the grading of the mid-term paper and about the format of the final exam. (Remember that the mid-term paper needs to be handed in to my secretary before the end of this week.)
2. I want to talk just a bit more about Hyle v. Porter, with a focus on two questions: (A) what is the strongest statutory interpretation theory one could put forward to support the Ohio Supreme Court's ruling, and (B) what should the Ohio legislature do in response to the ruling?
3. I want to focus on the issues and statutory construction canons that appear in the Fourth Circuit ruling in US v. Hayes (available here), with a focus on two questions: (A) what canon best accounts for the outcome in the Fourth Circuit, and (B) does the constitutional doubt canon have any relevance here?
February 06, 2008
A few working paper/exam/final proposals
To focus discussion on the paper/exam/final issue, let me set forth three working proposals:
Proposal 1 (aka the Berman (starter? optional?) initial paper proposal): This is my own proposal floated in class on Wednesday that would involve the submission of a short word-limited paper (to be due sometime before the end of Spring Break) that reflects on "who" selection and structural issues discussed in class.
Proposal 2 (aka the student multi-paper final proposal): This is the student-created proposal read in class on Wednesday that basically suggests requiring "3 to 4 short papers spread over the rest of the semester" with "all the papers related to the same piece of federal legislation."
Proposal 3 (aka the student multi-format final proposal): This is the student-created proposal suggested in a blog comment that suggests a written/oral combination: there is "a topic (fact pattern) that [requires] some sort of written document ... worth 50-75% of our grade," followed by a "30(?) minute session with Professor Berman to debate the points of the fact pattern and our written argument."
I like all three proposals, although I think #2 and #3 might be mutually exclusive AND I think proposals #1 and #3 might go together especially well. One reason I am pushing proposal #1 is because I think I could/would work real hard to grade/return one short paper during the semester, but I'd have a difficult time providing effective mid-semester feedback on a series of short papers.
In the comments to this post, please focus on these specific proposals. I am particularly interested in comments that either strongly oppose or strongly support one or more of these proposals.
January 30, 2008
A (risky? helpful?) open dialogue about our class final
As I have already mentioned a few times, I am not yet sure what kind of final I should give in this class. Though I am leaning toward a 36-hour essay/policy take-home exam (option 2(d) discussed below), I am not sure such an exam format is student-friendly in the Spring Semester after a long 1L year. Moreover, because I am (intentionally) focused on broad themes in our class, I am starting to think a final paper might be more appropriate than an exam.
Especially because class members have now just received their grades from first semester exams, I thought it might be useful to ponder the class final publically in this space and to encourage student input (either through comments or during our upcoming lunches). Though I may eventually survey the whole class in a more formal manner, for now I want to lay out six basic options I am seriously considering and hear whatever reactions students might have to any or all of the possibilities. So here goes:
1. A traditional exam final (given in-class and closely timed) and comprised of (a) mostly focused issue-spotting questions OR (b) mostly broad policy questions.
2. A take-home exam final (with some time pressure and strict word limits) and comprised of (c) mostly focused issue-spotting questions OR (d) mostly broad policy questions.
3. A final paper (with a fixed deadline and strict word limits) and comprised of (e) a few shorter submissions due through the semester OR (f) a larger single paper submitted at the end of the semester.
January 22, 2008
Time to pick your who...
because I am going to call on folks this week to report which particular who they selected, and then ask folks to try to explain the import and impact of different structural features of the legislative process from that particular perspective.
Berman bonus points will go to any and everyone who reports a selected who in the comments here.
January 16, 2008
A (partial) list of whos
Aided by student feedback, I now have this refined (and still growing) list of potential "whos" for in-class "on-call" roles. Divided somewhat artificially by process and product, possible whos include:
- US President (and staff)
- US Senator
- US House member
- US agency head
- Ohio Governor
- Ohio Senator
- Ohio House member
- Head of the National Democratic party
- Head of the National Republican party
- Head of the Ohio Republican party
- Head of the Ohio Democratic party
- Head of the AARP (or the Sierra Club or the Chamber of Commerce)
- Head of a Grass-roots "outsider" group
- Professional Lobbyist (will work for lots of $$)
- Prominent member of traditional media
- Prominent member of non-traditional media (e.g., Oprah, Rush, blogger)
- US Supreme Court Justice
- US lower court judge
- US Attorney General
- Ohio Supreme Court Justice
- Ohio lower court judge
- Ohio Attorney General
- Lawyer with mostly individual private clients
- Lawyer with mostly institutional private clients
- Lawyer with a public policy group
- Impacted citizen
- Interested citizen
Of course, there are many other possibilities (which folks might use the comments to fill out). As I mentioned in class, I encourage students to adopt a "who" that connects with personal and professional interests.