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Princeton University

Civil Liberties

Princeton University via edX


_“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, thattheyare endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that amongtheseare Life, Liberty andthePursuit of Happiness.”

_ These stirring words from the Declaration of Independence are at the very foundation of the American tradition of civil liberties. In this course, we explore this tradition from its beginning with the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution, and the Federalist Papers, through a number of notable historical and contemporary cases in which claims to rights and liberties have been at stake.

We will examine issues of slavery, segregation, abortion, campaign finance, free speech, religion, affirmative action, and marriage. Our discussion will be guided by thinkers like John Locke, John Stuart Mill, Friedrich Hayek, and Martin Luther King Jr., as well as important Supreme Court opinions, such as the majority and dissenting opinions in Dred Scott v. Sandford (on slavery), Brown v. Board of Education (on segregation), Roe v. Wade (on abortion), Citizens United v. FEC (on campaign finance and free speech), and Obergefell v. Hodges (on marriage).

We do not seek unanimity of opinion, but rather a deepening of understanding. Whatever your views happen to be—liberal, conservative, whatever—they will be sympathetically explored but also challenged. The goal of the course is not to persuade you to think as anyone else does; rather, it is to encourage and empower you to think about disputed questions of civil rights and liberties more deeply, more critically, and for yourself.

Taught by

Robert P. George


4.9 rating, based on 7 Class Central reviews

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  • Anonymous
    The teacher was great had my attention the entire time. Learning about violations commonly practiced in Rhode Island.. Very helpful just wish I received a certificate of EXPERTISE ;)
  • Anonymous
    This is an absolutely outstanding course on matters that all Americans and, indeed, people throughout the world should know about: civil liberties. Professor Robert P. George is one of the most distinguished scholars in the fields of Constitution…
  • Anonymous
    Professor George's lectures are brilliant and riveting. The assigned readings are challenging but very informative and help students develop ability to decipher judicial opinions. However, the presentation of the course does not capitalize on the video dimension at all: we just see hours and hours of Prof George lecturing to an ampitheater full of attentive students. The lectures could be presented as texts or as audio podcasts. The multiple choice "chapter" tests could be rewritten to challenge students more.

    I would definitely recommend this course to anyone interested in American political thought and the role the judiciary plays in the political process.
  • Irfan Javed
    In my opinion, this course is one of the best. Professor Robert George's approach to the subject is very thorough and comprehensive. His lecture videos are lively. The design of the course is very appealing. Introduction, learning goals, readings, concepts, terms and cases at the start of every week is very helpful. Weekly Quizzes are very interesting and are not too difficult. Because of the constraints of the time, I have not so far been able to participate in the weekly discussions. I think this course is a great opportunity to understand the broad subject of civil liberties.
  • Raymond Suesser
    Civil Liberties is an excellent course. The structure: assigned readings, terms & concepts, classroom lectures, group discussion and quizzes are well set up.

    Professor George’s lectures are comprehensive, informative and interesting. I strongly recommend and have enrolled in his next course: Constitutional Interpretation.

    R. Suesser
  • Anonymous
    "Civil Liberties" has given me the opportunity to know civil rights constitutionally guaranteed by the United States of America, the historical process of their assertion and the most important related case-law.
    I have particularly appreciated the ample room given to historical sentences, accompanied by some procedural documents.
  • Anonymous
    This was a very informative course, that delineated issues involving civil liberties, and how these issues impact a variety of matters that affect our everyday lives.

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