Constitutional and Civil Rights Law Curriculum

The United States Constitution establishes the nature of our government, the scope of our liberties, and the processes through which we govern ourselves. The constitutional and civil rights law curriculum at the School of Law aims to provide students with the opportunity to explore the U.S. Constitution from a variety of different perspectives.  

Introductory Courses

The foundational class in this course of study is Constitutional Law, which all students take in the spring of their first year. The class provides students with fundamental knowledge about the powers of the federal government, the powers of states in local and national governance, and the rights of individuals.

Upper-Level Electives

After taking Constitutional Law, students with an interest in learning more about constitutional governance should consider a variety of upper-level classes. Some classes focus on the rights granted to persons by the Constitution. First Amendment Law explores religious liberty and freedom of expression. Students interested in exploring the concept of equality under the Fourteenth Amendment should take The Future of Equality in Constitutional Law. Other classes that explore individual rights include Election Law, Religion and the Constitution, and Race, Religion & the Law. Those interested in exploring the intersection of American history and constitutional values should consider taking Immigration Law or Indian Law. Students interested in the intersection of constitutional law and personal identity should consider classes such as Family Law, Children and the Law, Sexual Orientation and the Law, Human Rights Seminar, or Bioethics. A vast body of law concerning the Constitution’s application to criminal defendants is covered in Criminal Procedure, Criminal Process, Capital Murder Litigation, and the Wrongful Conviction Seminar. Students can learn about the constitutional rights that govern the employment relationship in Constitutional and Statutory Law of Public Employment. Finally, students might wish to take Civil Rights Litigation to obtain an understanding of the practical means through which constitutional rights are enforced in our courts.

Other classes in the constitutional law curriculum focus not on individual rights but on the governmental structure created by the Constitution. Thus, in The Structural Constitution, students explore how the branches of the federal government share power with each other as well as how the federal government as a whole shares power with the states. Federal Courts, as its name implies, explores the federal judiciary’s role in intergovernmental relations. Conflicts of Laws also addresses intergovernmental relations, but focuses more particularly on the management of these relationships within specific litigation events.  In Administrative Law, students are acquainted with constitutional norms for the operation of state and federal government agencies promulgating regulations, dispensing benefits, and issuing licenses.

The constitutional law curriculum at University of Richmond School of Law ties into a broader curricular focus on public lawmaking. In addition to the courses listed above, students who seek to bridge their constitutional teachings with broader public law knowledge should consider taking Legislation, Administrative Law, Local Government Law, Environmental Law, and Health Care Policy.

Clinical Opportunities

Students may encounter constitutional law issues in any number of clinical programs, including the Education Rights Clinic, Children's Defense Clinic, Family Law Clinic, Advanced Children's Law Clinic, and the Institute for Actual Innocence.

Additionally, the law school's Clinical Placement Program offers a host of externships that allow students to participate in active litigation, many of which will undoubtedly involve matters of constitutional law. Students interested in constitutional law should consider externships with federal and state court judges, federal and state prosecutors and public defenders, the U.S. Attorney’s Office’s Civil Division, or the American Civil Liberties Union.