Sunday, January 3, 2010

Free Course on Constitutional Law

Netty Weisbaum just forwarded this e-mail. Brooklyn Law School professor Henry mark Holzer has announced that he will be teaching a rare course in constitutional law, free of charge, on eight evenings in February and March. Holzer represented Ayn Rand.

Presented By Professor Emeritus HENRY MARK HOLZER rooklyn Law School

Like many other Americans, I am deeply concerned about our nation’s future.

The Weekly Standard of December 21, 2009, reports that “a survey commissioned by the American Revolution Center” found that “when it came to a simple test of knowledge about the founding [of the United States of America], nearly 83 percent of . . . Americans failed.”

In the face of this woeful ignorance, the Constitution of the United States of America is under an unprecedented attack by Barack Obama and his runaway Democrat Party, aided and abetted by the complicit mainstream media.

Yet with a few notable exceptions there is hardly any knowledgeable defense of our founding document to be found anywhere.

Not on radio or television. Not in the press. Not at the grassroots. Certainly not in academia. Nor, sadly, among most Republicans, Conservatives and even Libertarians. Most of the Media’s “instant,” pontificating constitutional experts, especially those on national television, do more harm than good because they spread disinformation that is neither knowledgeable nor principled.

While many “tea party” activists and other patriots are valiantly trying to fight for core constitutional values, they’re disarmed because they have been taught little about American constitutional law. The fact is that everyone fighting for America today, in order to defend the Constitution, must know the answers to countless crucial questions.

Just a few examples:

· Can Congress constitutionally require Americans to buy medical insurance?

· Did Congress lack the constitutional power to give a lame-duck, unelected treasury secretary unchecked and unsupervised power to dispense a trillion dollars of taxpayer money?

· Does Obama have the constitutional power to appoint unaccountable “czars” to rule over virtually every aspect of our lives?

· How was a bare majority of the Supreme Court able to usurp constitutional control over America’s national security and the “War on Terrorism” from President George W. Bush?

· Why do even supporters of Roe v. Wade’s result admit that, as constitutional law, the decision is indefensible?

· What turned the Constitution into a “living” document that can mean anything Earl Warren, Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Sonia Sotomayor feel it should mean?

· Is the “fairness doctrine”—which could kill conservative talk radio programs, like Rush Limbaugh—a violation of the Constitution’s First Amendment?

· Are American citizens about to be stripped of their constitutional “right to bear arms”?

· What are “unenumerated” constitutional rights, and why have they never been recognized?

· Can racial quotas ever be eliminated entirely?

· Where does the Constitution say that convicts are entitled to law libraries?

The answers to these and scores of other questions about America’s Constitution will, for good or ill, determine much about the future of the United States of our nation.

Those who are committed to fighting for that future must acquire a basic understanding of the Constitution's origins and birth, its written text, the manner in which it has been deliberately violated, and the consequences of how it has been misinterpreted by collectivists and statists.

Because of the importance of this struggle, I have put aside most of my writing and legal work and early in 2010 will offer—strictly as a pro bono personal undertaking—an Internet course consisting of ten lectures on American constitutional law. You can learn about who I am, and understand why I’m doing this, simply by taking a look at my blog ( and/or my website (

Please help me get out the word about this course.

If you agree that it is essential today for laypersons--especially Conservatives, Libertarians and Independents--to understand basic American constitutional law ("Con Law 101," if you will), please forward the following Announcement to everyone you can, asking them to do the same. I am particularly interested in getting it to prominent Conservatives, Libertarians and Independents such as Palin, Paul and Independent teachers, clergy, columnists and others who have the public's attention. “Plugs” from leading talk show hosts and hostesses are most welcome.

Many years ago, one of my clients and friends—the author Ayn Rand— asked me a rhetorical question: “If we don’t fight for this country, who will?”

I gave the same answer to Rand as I do now: I will!


1. Formation of the American Republic

Events leading to the Declaration of Independence.
The text and meaning of the Declaration.
The Continental Congress.
The Constitutional Convention.
The Constitution’s structure and content.
The ratification battle in the Federalist Papers and elsewhere.
The achievement of the first Congress.
The Bill of Rights and debates over its ratification.

2. The American Constitutional System
A working definition of “constitutional law.”
How the Supreme Court came to be the Constitution’s final arbiter.

“Originalism” and other tools of constitutional interpretation.
Federalism: the relationship and tensions between the federal and state governments, with examples showing federal legislation affecting matters which should be within the powers of the states.

Separation of powers: the relationship and tensions between the three supposedly equal branches of government — legislative, executive and judicial — with examples of where the “more equal” branch, the Supreme Court, refereed battles between the other two branches and, in the bargain, expanded its own powers.

Judicial supremacy: primarily Chief Justice John Marshall's opinion in Marbury vs. Madison, which established the principle of Judicial Review.

Griswold v. Connecticut, illustrating federalism, separation of powers and judicial review.

3. Congress and Its Powers

The source, nature, and scope of Congress’s power.
Congress’s power to regulate interstate commerce.
Congress’s war, foreign affairs, and related powers.
Congress’s other, miscellaneous powers.

4. The Presidency And Its Powers

The President's “chief executive” and “faithfully execute” power.
The President's power as Commander-in-Chief.

5. The Judiciary And Its Powers

The source, nature, and scope of judicial power. Limitations, if any, on judicial power.

6. Intergovernmental Relations

The “horizontal” relationship between the states, and the requirement of “full faith and credit.”

Constitutional Limitations on Congress's Power

Textual limitations on the power of Congress, including suspension of the writ of habeas corpus.
Constitutional Limitations On The Power Of The States
The few textual limitations of the power of the states, including the prohibition against impairment of contracts.

7. Prohibitions On Both Congress And The States: The Bill Of Rights

Introduction to the Bill of Rights.
Does the Bill of Rights apply against the federal government?
“Substantive” Due Process: contraception and abortion.

8. The First Amendment


9. The Eighth Amendment

Cruel and Unusual Punishment.
The Fourteenth Amendment
Genesis of the Fourteenth Amendment.
Procedural Due Process: Notice and opportunity to be heard.
Substantive Due Process, revisited.

10. The Fourteenth Amendment

Substantive due process, revisited.
Equal protection of the law:
Conclusion to lectures



The recorded course—ten two-hour lectures each week for ten consecutive weeks—will be available via (1) my website ( and (2) my blog page (, from each of which the entire course can be downloaded free of charge.

It will available on those sites in the middle of the weeks beginning January 17, 24, 31; February 7, 14, 21, 28; and March 7, 14, 21 and will remain there indefinitely.

No Cost To Download Recorded Course

There is no cost to access this course in its recorded/downloaded form. (However, because listeners will be hearing a recording, they will not be able to ask questions.)

Cost To Participate In Live Course

The prerequisite to posting and maintaining the course on my website and blog at no cost is that the ten lectures first be recorded.

To do that, I will utilize the worldwide facilities of, an interactive computer-based communication system.

Using Skype, it will be possible for no more than 23 individuals to hear the course live, and ask questions, by downloading free software from Skype and using an inexpensive, off-the-shelf headset/microphone.

I will record by delivering the lectures live on Sunday evenings, from 6:00 PM to 8:00 PM Eastern Time on January 17, 24, 31; February 7, 14, 21, 28, March 7, 14, 21, 2010.

(To defray Skype, recording, posting, etc. expenses, I am charging $250 for this interactive participation. Persons interested in being among the 23 who listen to my lectures live should contact me at for full details).

Essential reading

There is no “homework” for this course. However, to benefit fully from it I recommend that prior to hearing the first lecture you obtain a hard copy of, and read, the Constitution of the United States of America. Also, the Supreme Court opinion in Griswold v. Connecticut, which can be found without cost at You will find it helpful to have both available during the course.


Persons having questions about anything concerning the content of the course may submit them here. (Please, no questions about Skype!)

Persons wishing to receive additional information about this course, and future courses I may offer, must register to receive my blog ( This will be my only way of communicating with you and the only place such information will be available.

This announcement appears in its entirety on my website

My Goal

Preparation of this course, and providing everything else that will allow it to remain posted and downloaded indefinitely, is my personal pro bono publico undertaking.

I am offering it in the hope that public education in American constitutional law will aid in our fight to rescue our nation from those who are destroying it.

(To guard against email changing the format, I have attached a Word version of this Announcement.)

When I was in college I took a course called Civil Liberties taught by someone named John Nields who had helped represent a firm called Red Lion Broadcasting in a constitutional case that was brought before the Supreme Court. Mr. Nields had retired and was teaching full time at Sarah Lawrence College for $1 per year. I seem to recall he lived in Manhattan and made a short drive up there. I thought the course was one of the best I have taken. This one sounds just as good.

1 comment:

Clay Barham said...

America dissolved the two tier social structure that still exists in the rest of our world. It was the major deterrent to economic progress in the world, because it shut off adventure by the many ruled by the few. The two tier, elite and powerful few ruling the weak many in the social herd, meant no one should stand above their fellows in each tier. No one could safely challenge the accepted and established way things operated. There was no attraction to do so, no pulling a single individual forward into uncharted waters, only the fear of being punished. America, without an elite and powerful few ruling the herd, experienced what it was like for free men and women to think out of the social bubble and act out of the box, become pebble-droppers and try to fly in so many areas of interest, that progress was the unavoidable result. This is what the 19th century libertarian Democrats fought to retain for America that the 20th century Democrats are trying to destroy. This is what the libertarians, objectivists, Ayn Rand supporters and most knowledgeable conservatives are trying to retain today against a new two tier society where an elite and powerful few have gained political power and are exercising it now. shows these roots for those interested in easy learning.