Welcome to the Department of Law
The Law and Legal Studies program provides cadets insight into legal concepts and functions of law. It is not a pre-law program to train future lawyers. Rather, our purpose is to educate cadets to be leaders in a changing and often ambiguous world. Learning how to think clearly and analyze arguments and claims critically are key benefits of the program. These essential skills, along with moral and ethical considerations, form the basis for effective leadership. Cadets examine the role of law from many perspectives, including:
- As a primary means of maintaining social order;
- In balancing individual interests against the interests of society; and,
- In resolving disputes.
If you are a USMA Cadet interested in becoming a law major, please contact our Department Academic Counselor, Professor Mark Wellman at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Connect with DLAW:
Harvard Law Dean Martha Minow
Dean Martha Minow, the Morgan and Helen Chu Dean and Professor at Harvard Law School, visited the Department of Law on Sept. 26. During her visit, Dean Minow had lunch with law majors in the mess hall, made a presentation to cadets on the legacy of the landmark 1954 U.S. Supreme Court case, Brown v. Board of Education, and spoke with Department of Law faculty on issues of interest in legal education.
After graduating from Yale Law School, Minow served as a law clerk at the Supreme Court for Justice Thurgood Marshall, who litigated the Brown case as the attorney for the NAACP. Her recent book, “In Brown’s Wake,” described how the Supreme Court “has allowed local districts to use new student assignments, rezoning and redistricting to undo racial mixing and increase segregation,” in the decades following the Brown decision. Minow joined the law faculty at Harvard Law School in 1981. Among her students were Supreme Court Justice Elena Kagan and President Barack Obama. When asked about Obama the student, she noted that when he spoke in class, the other students in the class would actually take notes.
She has been a faculty member for the last 35 years and has served as the dean since 2009, teaching courses on civil procedure, constitutional law, family law, international criminal justice, jurisprudence, law and education among others. Minow is an expert in human rights and advocacy for members of racial and religious minorities and for women, children and persons with disabilities.
She also writes and teaches about privatization, military justice, and ethnic and religious conflict. During her storied career, Minow served on the Independent Commission Kosovo and helped to launch Imagine Coexistence, a program of the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees, to promote peaceful development in post-conflict societies. In 2009, Obama nominated and the U.S. Senate confirmed Minow to the board of the Legal Services Corporation, a bipartisan, government-sponsored organization that provides civil legal assistance to low-income Americans. She now serves as the vice-chair of the organization.
Cadets meet with Justice Sonia Sotomayor
Posted on April 25, 2016
Cadets in the Advanced Constitutional Law seminar taught by Professor & Constitutional Law Chair, Tony DiSarro, visited the US Supreme Court and the Capitol building in Washington, D.C. First, at the courtroom in the Supreme Court, the cadets observed oral argument in a case concerning the proper interpretation of the Sixth Amendment’s Speedy Trial Clause. Next, the cadets met privately with Justice Sonia Sotomayor in the Rehnquist Dining Room in the Courthouse. Justice Sotomayor discussed her views on being a member of the bench. The cadets also toured the Capitol building. The trip section was led by Professor DiSarro and fellow Law Department faculty member, LTC Wendy Cox.
Posted on April 20, 2016
The Department of History and the Department of Law co-sponsored a trip to the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington D.C. on 14-15 April. Twenty-four Cadets and four faculty members toured the permanent exhibit and met with Holocaust scholars, historians and archivists during this two day program specifically designed for USMA Cadets. Discussion topics included: “How do we decipher the visual evidence of the concentration camps?”; “What role did professionals and institutions, such as lawyers and judges, play under the Nazi regime?”; “Is the verdict the most significant outcome of trials for mass atrocities?”; “Whom do we hold accountable?”; and “How do you transform a principle into international law?” West Point adjunct professor Gary Solis also discussed various war crimes vignettes with Cadets, linking the history of war crimes prosecutions and laws of armed conflict to current day military operations. Finally, Cadets and faculty had the incredible opportunity to talk with Holocaust survivor Henry Greenbaum, who was only 12 at the time of his original detention in 1940, and who survived the multiple concentration camps and a death march (picture attached). He was rescued by American soldiers, whom he still refers to as "my angels."