political science analytical paper supreme court opinion

Analytical paper on a Supreme Court opinion.


“Tuesday, October 2 – A close analysis of the logic and philosophy underlying one of the Supreme Court opinions assigned thus far.” Write a 5-7 page paper (double-spaced, so single-spaced it’s only ~3 pages) carefully analyzing the reasoning in one of the cases we’ve looked at so far. You may choose any case listed on the syllabus up to the date of the midterm. You may choose to focus on a dissenting opinion if you like. The goal is to demonstrate your capacity to carefully evaluate the judicial reasoning in the case.

Expose and critically assess the logical structure of the opinion as clearly and cogently as possible. Present and examine the major objections in the best light that you can. Discuss erroneous or implausible lines of reasoning if and where you find them. Make sure to describe the broader principles being developed and/or applied in the case, including the political philosophy expressed in the opinion (federalism, laissez faire, judicial restraint, etc.).

Some other notes mentioned in class:

1. lay out in detail conclusions that the opinion is arriving at and the means with which it does so
2. describe what broader principles and doctrines are laid out
3. if you focus on a majority opinion, at least address it the dissenting opinion, and vice versa
4. the goal is not to present a thesis of your own but to analyze the opinion
5. no need for historical background or secondary sources
– the organization and structure of the paper have to be very clear, exposing the logic in a way that is easy to follow.

I’ve uploaded the syllabus so you can see which cases are available.

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