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Constitutional Jurisprudence Clinic

» Constitutional Jurisprudence Clinic

The Fowler School of Law Constitutional Jurisprudence Clinic offers students the opportunity to gain real-world experience and three (3) units of clinical class credit by doing substantive work on important trial and appellate cases.

For the past decade, the clinic has taught students about the original understanding of the Constitution and put those lessons into practice by crafting arguments to federal appellate courts and the United States Supreme Court. Clinic students conduct research and prepare appellate briefs, including petitions for certiorari to the United States Supreme Court and amicus briefs.

Most significantly, clinic briefs have been cited by appellate judges and Supreme Court Justices in their opinions. Justice Alito cited the clinic’s brief in his concurring opinion in Espinoza v. Montana Department of Revenue, 140 S.Ct. 2246, 2268 (2020) (Alito, J., concurring), and Justice Thomas cited the clinic’s brief in his dissenting opinion in Arizona v. The Inter Tribal Council of Arizona, 570 U.S. 1, 30 (2013) (Thomas, J. dissenting). The clinic’s brief in another case was cited by Ninth Circuit Judge N. R. Smith in his dissent in American Trucking Associations v. City of Los Angeles, 660 F.3d 384, 412 (9th Cir. 2011) (N.R. Smith, dissenting).

In collaboration with Pacific Legal Foundation, students pursuing the trial litigation track have the opportunity to litigate important property rights and economic liberty cases in federal and California state trial courts. These students have a hands-on role in every case, including research, drafting complaints, discovery requests, preparing summary judgment motions and oppositions to motions to dismiss, attending client meetings and court hearings. Students are also introduced to the key elements and best practices of strategic litigation, including client and issue selection, communications strategy, causes of action and remedies, and unique pitfalls in suing the government (including doctrines concerning standing, abstention, governmental immunities, and mootness, among other topics).

The clinic is directed by Professor Tom Caso. Adjunct Professor Jeremy Talcott, an experienced property rights trial attorney, supervises the clinic’s trial-court program.

The Student Experience

  • Betsy S. (JD '21)
  • Bethany R. (JD '20)
  • Sayuri E. (JD '17)
  • Betsy S portraitr"I was attracted to the Fowler School of Law specifically because it offered the Constitutional Jurisprudence Clinic, where students learn and work under attorneys who have argued in front of the United States Supreme Court and have opportunities to write persuasively regarding cases of great importance. During my time in the clinic, I worked closely with professors who are all experienced appellate attorneys, on three briefs that went before the United States Supreme Court on issues of religion, takings and (non)delegation. I know my participation in the Constitutional Jurisprudence Clinic gave me a broader understanding of constitutional law and made me a better thinker and writer."
  • Law student in courtroom"The Constitutional Jurisprudence Clinic provided an excellent opportunity to hone my research and writing skills working on three amicus briefs. By giving students freedom to choose which cases to work on, clinic faculty encouraged us to champion those cases which best resounded with our beliefs and passions. This, in turn, caused students to become personally invested in the work, to be more accepting of critiques offered, and, ultimately, gave each of us several officially printed briefs to add to our library shelves."
  • Jennifer T"Participating in the Constitutional Jurisprudence Clinic allowed me to gain more practical experience than in any other law school classroom setting. I not only had the opportunity to work closely with seasoned attorneys on a written workpiece from beginning to end, but as a second-year law student, I was able to contribute to an amicus brief that was submitted to the Supreme Court of the United States. Moreover, the skills and insight I gained from having so much autonomy over my work-product will be invaluable when I begin to practice law. This clinic has been my most rewarding experience in law school."

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Recent News

The Constitutional Jurisprudence Clinic is ranked sixth nationally among organizations that regularly file amicus briefs urging Supreme Court review. Read more »

Tom Caso

Professor Tom Caso

"Students rarely, if ever, get the chance to see how the principles underlying the founding of this nation are relevant to the issues facing us today. The Constitutional Jurisprudence Clinic shows students how use those founding principles to argue for an interpretation of the Constitution based on original understanding to continue to protect liberty."