El Camino College

Behaviorial & Social Science

Political Science 6
Civil Liberties & Civil Rights

Poli 6
Laurie Houske

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Class Information:

Political Science 6
Civil Liberties & Civil Rights
Section 2772

SOCS 201
MW  11:15-12:40 pm

Welcome to Civil Rights and Liberties in the United States.  The goal of this course is to introduce students to the study of civil rights and liberties.  As part of this class we will evaluate the concepts and theories related to civil rights/liberties as well as current legislation and court decisions.  This will include an analysis of First Amendment protections, rights of the defendant, and problems of minority groups facing discrimination.

Course Policies:

Class participation is required as part of your grade.  You cannot participate if you are not in class, so make sure you attend class.  If you miss more than three classes unexcused, I will drop your grade by a letter grade. 

Tardies are noted and are reflected in your grade through classroom demeanor.  It is rude to your fellow students and me.  Additionally, I tend to make announcements at the beginning of class, which will not be repeated.  If you are late to class it is your responsibility to inform me that you were late at the end of class.  If you do not inform me of your tardiness that day you will be counted as absent. 

Make sure your cell phone is turned off during class.  Other things you should not do: talking in class, sleeping, wearing sunglasses, disturbing other students with your noise.  If you choose to eat in class, it is your responsibility to clean up your mess.  Any trash left behind will be attributed to you.

All papers turned in must be typed.

Late papers will be reduced by 10%.  There are no exceptions.

Various extra credit assignments will be given throughout the session.  You can make suggestions of independent extra credit projects.

It is helpful if you keep track of your points so you will know how you are doing in the class.

If you intend to drop the class, it is your responsibility to drop yourself.  I will not drop you.  If you do not drop yourself you will receive an “F” grade.  The last day to drop with a “W” is Friday, May 11, 2018. 

Please do not wait to come to me if you are having problems in the class.  It is very difficult to solve problems if you wait until the last minute.  The last two weeks of class are not the time to come to me to ask how you can pass the class.

Changes to the syllabus will be announced in class.

Course objectives:

Fundamental to successfully meeting the goals and objectives for this course, it is strongly suggested that students will:

  1. Attend class regularly and be on time.
  2. Stay focused and attentive during class discussions.
  3. Buy the books early.
  4. Do the readings as assigned.
  5. Raise questions during class discussions or office hours
  6. Take advantage of the learning resources available on campus, including the Learning Resource Center, your Counselor as a resource,  tutoring programs if needed and available, and other services and/or mini-classes designed to sharpen your “survival skills,” such as note taking, outlining chapter readings, and dealing with test-taking anxieties.
  7. Supplement note taking with audio recording of class discussions.
  8. Strengthen retention of concepts read and discussed by using flash cards.
  9. Use the review sheets to prepare for the exams.
  10. Form study groups to learn from one another.
  11. Read and review.
  12. Read and review.
  13. Read and review.

Upon completing this course, students will hopefully have a basic understanding of the major concepts and theories related to civil liberties and rights.  Additionally students will be familiar with current legislation and court decisions.  The following objectives will be meet:

1. Describe and analyze the political and judicial environment influencing attitudes towards policies on civil liberties and civil rights.
2. Identify and discuss the components of the federal judicial branch and the salient characteristics of each of the Supreme Court justices.
3. Explain and assess the responsibilities of the various court levels and how they function.
4. Identify and describe vocabulary used in the judicial process.
5. Compare and contrast opposing views on Supreme Court cases and other controversies relevant to civil rights and liberties.
6. Evaluate the doctrinal development and historical significance of areas in civil liberties and civil rights.
7. Discuss the various judicial tests for speech, press, and association and evaluate where these rights interconnect.
8. Analyze and apply the judicial tests for freedom of religion.
9. Evaluate the development of criminal protection guarantees and discuss changes to these guarantees based on technological advancements.
10. Analyze the development of privacy rights and discuss changes to these rights.

11. Compare and contrast varying forms of discrimination and the differences in the legal treatment of each.
12.  Discuss developing areas of rights and the Supreme Court's willingness to deal with these issues.     


Student Learning Outcomes 

1.  In a written essay, students will demonstrate knowledge of the various judicial tests pertaining to speech, press, and assembly as interpreted through various court decisions.

2.  In a written essay, students will discuss and critically analyze the different approaches to Constitutional Jurisprudence.


3.  In a written essay, students will demonstrate knowledge of the various judicial tests pertaining to the Equal Protection Clause. 


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Reading Assignments:

Week 1            Introduction to course material

                        Constitutional Sources,    

Week 2            Methods and Approaches, Chp 1 & 2

                        Incorporation, Chp 3

Week 3            Freedom of Speech, Chp 5 & 8

Week 4            Freedom of Speech

Week 5            Test #1

Freedom of Press, Chp 6 & 7

Week 6            Freedom of Press

                      Paper topic due


Week 7            Freedom of Religion, Chp 4


Week 8            Freedom of Religion

                        Test #2

Week 9            Search & Seizure, etc, Chp 11

Week 10          Legal Representation, Confessions, Chp 12


Week 11          Right to Privacy, Chp 10 

Week 12          Right to Privacy

                        Test #3

Week 13          Equal Protection-Race Discrimination Chp 13

                        Paper Due       

Week 14          Equal Protection- Race Discrimination

Week 15          Equal Protection-Sex Discrimination Chp 13

Week 16          Test #4

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                                    25%     Test #1                         (100 points)

                                    25 %    Test #2                         (100 points)

                                    25%     Test #3                         (100 points)

                                      0%     Test #4                        (    0 points)

                                    15%     Paper                            (60  points)

                                      5%     Class Participation          (20 points)

                                 5%     Classroom Demeanor   (20 points)

                                  100%                                         400 Total points

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Course Material:

Epstein, Lee, and Walker, Thomas G., Constitutional Law for a Changing America Rights, Liberties and Justice, 9th ed.  CQ Press 
ISBN 978-1-4833-8401-6

Constitutional Interpretation Cases

Paper assignment

Pick an issue associated with Civil Liberties or Civil Rights.  Write a paper in which you give in-depth legal analysis on your topic.  As part of your paper, discuss the legal issues associated with this right and include any current debates on the topic.  Additionally take a stand on the issue and state whether you are in agreement with the current state of the law.  If you are not, be sure to clearly state where you would differ.   

All papers must be typed, use proper citations, 8 pages maximum, and grammar counts so proofread and spell check.  Papers without proper citations will receive no credit.  One page paper topic description due March  21, 2018.  Paper due May 23, 2018.

Osborne Case 

Hurley Case

Test Review Sheets


2015-2016 Supreme Court Decisions




 Extra Credit:


You can use the search button on the Frontline website to find either of these two videos.

Season 32

Separate and Unequal

Season 34

A Subprime Education




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Online Resources:



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Phone: 310-532-3760 Toll Free: 1-866-ELCAMINO (1-866-352-2646)