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Skidmore College
First-Year Experience

Scribner Seminar Program
Course Description

American Liberty: Our Enduring Struggle with Constitutional Rights

Instructor(s): Beau Breslin, Government

Why are Americans so obsessed with the idea of individual liberty?  Where did this fixation come from?  Is it healthy for an American Republic to be so protective of the rights of the individual citizen?  If not, what can we do to stem the tide and return to some notion of community to the center of our constitutional discourse.   In this course, students will explore the concept of American freedom by examining the constitutional, historical, and philosophical foundations of our liberal experiment.  We will focus on how institutions--in particular the United States Supreme Court--have shaped America's unique conception of liberty.   In our examination of American Liberty, students will explore the right to privacy, the right to free speech, and the protections afforded by the Equal Protection and Due Process Clauses of the Fourteenth Amendment, including those rights afforded individuals on America's death row.  As an integral part of the seminar, students will work on an actual death penalty defense.  Students will be responsible for conducting primary research with the aim of providing the most effective defense possible for a specific death row inmate.

Course Offered