State Constitutional Law |

In the daily practice of law, state constitutions are often more relevant than the U.S. Constitution. This course examines Colorado’s Constitution and system of government.

When the Colorado Constitution was written in 1876, it was the longest constitution in the United States. Thanks to many amendments, it retains that distinction today. From 1876 to the present, the Colorado Constitution has reflected Colorado’s unique social and political culture. Among the special characteristics of Colorado Constitution are: stringent controls on the legislative process, and strict anti-corruption provisions; strong limits on taxes and spending; robust local government, including Colorado’s very unusual system of over 3,700 “special districts”; environmental conservation; numerous mandates for public education; and a powerful system of initiative and referendum.

From gold rush days to the present, Coloradans have insisted on their right to govern themselves. Recent examples of such self-governance—in defiance of federal controls—are the constitutional amendments legalizing medical and recreational marijuana, and the policy of some local governments not to cooperate with federal immigration law enforcement. Guest lecturers from all branches of government will explain how the Colorado Constitution works in practice.

Students who do not intend to practice in Colorado may find this course useful because it provides a full overview of how a system of state government works. This is not a typical course, in the sense that the readings are not mainly appellate cases. While we do read cases, the majority of readings are the Constitution itself, along with history and analysis.

Prerequisites: N/A
Credit Hours: 3
ULW: This course does not satisfy the Upper Level Writing requirement (ULW)

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