Jack Fruchtman

Professor, Department of Political Science; Law and American Civilization Program Director; and Pre-law Adviser

JF

Political science professor Jack Fruchtman is a distinguished constitutional law scholar who has both taught and advised thousands of students at Towson during his career. He strives to make the U.S. Constitution and its history accessible to students through his coursework and the Prelaw Society, a group open to all Towson students. He has served as adviser to the Prelaw Society since 1985.

What’s your latest project?
I have just completed a new book, American Constitutional History: A Brief Introduction. It was published in 2016 by Wiley-Blackwell. I have tried to make the development of the Constitution over the past 225 years accessible to students and general readers, because it is crucial to know how it has evolved whenever Presidents, Congress, or the Supreme Court makes decisions or takes action. This book shows how that has happened.

But the Constitution is always evolving, right? 
Yes, and that is what’s so fascinating about studying it. The framers of the document and those who followed with the amendments undoubtedly realized that their work would evolve through actual practice, but they could never have envisioned its development.

Is there any way you’d change the way the U.S. Constitution and its history are taught to students?
I hope my book and those like it will stimulate historians and political scientists to teach American constitutional history. It hasn't fared that well on most campuses over the last 30 or 40 years, and that's troubling. Instead, we, and this includes me, teach constitutional law and politics analytically, which basically means topic by topic: judicial review, separation of powers, federalism, civil rights, and civil liberties. But for students to learn how the Constitution has evolved chronologically can be really illuminating, especially when they learn that this evolution is not merely by judges but by presidents and members of Congress too.

What is the program in Law and American Civilization?
“This is an interdisciplinary, liberal arts program that several faculty here developed some years ago to introduce students to how the law figures in American history, law, culture, and civilization.  It is not a pre-law professional program in the sense that students interested in attending law school after graduation should choose it for a major.  Law schools accept all majors, no matter what. Students who want to know more about the context of the law should choose it.”

What does your role as pre-law adviser entail?
I advise many students each year—from all majors, disciplines and colleges. My advisees also include alumni, graduate students and even high school recruits. This is not academic advising, although that subject comes up. This is, rather, career counseling for students contemplating law school. Most students rightly worry about the application process, asking what it is that they need to do to apply to law school and how best can they develop to make their applications attractive to law school admissions officers.

You’re also the author of several books about some celebrated 18th-century Americans and Europeans.
“I have written several books and articles on late 18th-century figures, for example, Atlantic Cousins: Benjamin Franklin and His Visionary Friends about Franklin’s larger circle of friends and associates, both in American and Europe. I have also written about Thomas Paine, the political activist and theorist, in The Political Philosophy of Thomas Paine.”