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Constitutional Law for Enlightened Citizens

Publisher: Home School Legal Defense Association
Author: Michael P. Farris, Esq.
Review last updated: 2009
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Constitutional Law for Enlightened Citizens

Serious students at the junior and senior levels of high school will develop a much better understanding of the present state of Constitutional law from reading this book and/or going through the course on CD-ROM.

The book contains actual text of Supreme Court decisions that have helped to shape law into its present form, along with the original texts of the foundational documents of our government. Commentary by Mr. Farris prior to each document guides students in their reading to key points in each decision. Study questions that can be used either for written work or discussion help to enlarge understanding.

The first unit discusses the "Historical Background of the Constitution." Farris uses an interesting analogy, comparing the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution to a present-day corporation's articles of incorporation and by-laws respectively. Other related documents such as The Articles of Confederation and The Bill of Rights are included in the discussion.

Unit II addresses "The Constitution as Higher Law," covering the roles of state and federal constitutions and the establishment of the principle of judicial review. Unit III deals with executive and legislative branches and limits to their constitutional authority. Unit IV tackles the thorny problem of the judicial branch acting as lawmaker, and also the proper limitations on the scope of judicial activity. Unit V covers religion-related constitutional issues, which should be of special interest to Christian students. Unit VI addresses some of the most recent decisions regarding property rights, unionism, and government rights.

While the commentary is very readable, some of the justices' writing takes perseverance to unravel, so make sure your teen is able to work at this level. This book is also great for adults interested in such issues. The accompanying, inexpensive teacher's handbook contains answers to study questions; I would recommend purchasing it.

This book was originally published as Constitutional Law for Christian Students, and my review thus far is based upon that earlier version. A new, greatly expanded edition with the new name, Constitutional Law for Enlightened Citizens, replaces the orginal book, but I have not yet reviewed it. The HSLDA website describes it: "In this beautiful new edition of Constitutional Law, Michael Farris has completely revised and expanded his textbook from 282 to 592 pages. In his clear, conversational style, he takes readers from the Constitutional Convention and the meaning of original intent to an in-depth analysis of pivotal Supreme Court decisions—and explains how judicial tyranny is eroding our liberties."

Michael Farris has presented this course on-line. Check with HSLDA to find out at what site it is being offered. A CD-ROM featuring the course presentations is also available. It has 40class sessions, each one 15 to 30 minutes in length, so there is a great deal of content on the CD. The CD is supposed to correspond very closedly with the book, so you could either use it as a reinforcement alongside the book or on its own for a less challenging class. Presentations on the CD should be very helpful for understanding the concepts and court cases presented, so I highly recommend it. (CD available only through HSLDA.)


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  • Constitutional Law for Enlightened Citizens

    Constitutional Law for Enlightened Citizens

    Esq Michael P. Farris

    Instant Key

    • Suitable for: group or independent study
      Audience: grade 11 and up
      Need for parent/teacher instruction: high if not using CD-ROM, otherwise low
      Prep time needed: high for direct teaching instead of CD-ROM
      Teacher's manual: useful
      Religious perspective:  Christian

    Publisher's Info

    • (540) 338-5600