Northern Arizona University/Environmental Ethics/Handouts/Practice questions for the final exam

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Philosophy of Law Final Exam

Practice Questions

The final exam is this Thursday at 12:30 until 2:30 in LA 112. The exam consists of two questions. My prediction is that both questions will bear a striking similarity to the questions listed below. The ground rules for the exam are as follows. You must write your response to the questions during the time of the exam. You may bring in notes, the readings, your papers, outlines of responses to the practice questions, rough drafts of answers to the questions, etc. Anything is acceptable except secondary sources that were not assigned as readings during the course—and a friend. Your aim in writing each response should be to form a coherent argument for a clear point. The point you make is up to you—I will be looking at the manner in which you sort out the issues you believe are important and how you support your claims.

First question: How should we draw the line between what would count as a natural extension of the legal principles embodied in the 14th amendment to the Constitution of the United States of America, and an illegitimate attempt to rewrite the Constitution without taking the pains to amend the document itself? Consider the various sources of law, including custom, consent, natural law, etc. in developing a response. Next, take one or two of the cases that we have read, such as Brown v Board of Education, Roe v. Wade or Cherokee Nation v Georgia, and explain how you would draw the line between a natural extension of the legal principles in the 14th amendment to a new set of facts versus an illegitimate attempt to rewrite of the law. We all know that it is possible to amend the Constitution through the process articulated in the Constitution itself. Setting this process to the side, at what point should courts refrain from reaching too far in extending their interpretation of these basic principles of justice?

Second question: For the sake of this exam, let us assume that--to some degree--the present system of international law fails to embody the rule of law. Explain what is required for a legal system such as the international system of law to embody the rule of law. What is so special about the idea of the rule of law itself? Next, explain one or two changes that would have to be made in the system of international law in order to realize the rule of law. Explain why these changes are necessary for the very possibility of the rule of law.