Law 541/542, Introduction to Constitutional Law 1 and 2

Law 541 and 542 are a two-semester course in introductory constitutional law. The course aims to give students a more thorough knowledge of the subject than is possible in a single semester and is designed for students whose interest in constitutional law warrants the investment of the additional semester. The course is designed for students with heightened interest in the subject, not for students with heightened background: the course does not assume that students have any prior knowledge other than the knowledge that all law students are presumed to have by the beginning of their second year at Michigan.

In the course of the two semesters, Law 541 and 542 will address the topics of federalism, the separation of powers, and individual rights. (The individual rights coverage will focus on matters arising under the Due Process and Equal Protection Clauses of the Fourteenth Amendment.) The course will also pay attention to methods of constitutional interpretation and the historical development of the American constitutional system.

Successful completion of Law 541 fulfills the Law School’s Constitutional Law requirement, whether or not a student continues on to Law 542. That said, students should be on notice that the coverage of material in Law 541 is not parallel to that in Law 540 (i.e., the Law School’s one-semester introductory course in constitutional law). The two semesters of Law 541 and 542 are designed as an integrated whole, not as an introductory semester paralleling Law 540 followed by a semester of advanced constitutional law. Accordingly, the topics covered in Law 540 may not all be addressed during the first semester of this course, and students who take Law 541 without taking Law 542 may find that they have had little or no exposure to important areas of constitutional law that an introductory course ought to cover. For this reason, it is not recommended that students take Law 541 unless they intend also to take Law 542.

Law 541 is a prerequisite for Law 542 for the same reason: the two semesters are designed as a single course. No student will be admitted to Law 542 who has not successfully completed Law 541.