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Cases on Constitutional Law

Cases on Constitutional Law

by W. B. Lockhart, R. Fallon, J. H. Choper, S. H. Shiffrin, Y Kamisar
In five years since the seventh edition of this book was published, a number of significant decisions have been handed down and a wealth of scholarly commentary has been generated. Accordingly, this new edition represents a complete revision and a fresh reevaluation, for purposes of re-editing and re-organizing, of all existing materials. It also constitutes the


In five years since the seventh edition of this book was published, a number of significant decisions have been handed down and a wealth of scholarly commentary has been generated. Accordingly, this new edition represents a complete revision and a fresh reevaluation, for purposes of re-editing and re-organizing, of all existing materials. It also constitutes the product of an extensive examination of the recent literature - in an effort to further enrich the notes, comments and questions. In addition to full updating, restructuring has been undertaken where called for by recent developments.

The most significant revisions appear in Chapter 3 (Separation of Powers). Chapter 4 (State Power to Regulate), Chapter 13 (Limitations on Judicial Review), and parts of Chapter 10 (Equal Protection) dealing with Affirmative Action (Sec. 2, VI), Discriminations Based on Gender (Sec. 3), and Special Scrutiny for Other Classifications (Sec. 4).

Editorial Reviews

David Schultz
The Lockhart volume may be the definitive constitutional law text with respect to the sheer number of cases and secondary commentary included. The central theme and distinction of the book is its "commitment to the proposition that a student's understanding of constitutional law is greatly enriched by exposure to a variety of competing perspectives drawn from the best of legal scholarship" (p. xxiii). To that end the book offers an exhaustive review of the major cases in constitutional law and civil rights/liberties. This includes the death penalty but excludes all other criminal due process cases. The text also provides several short (1-3) page essays by prominent legal scholars representing many political views discussing specific cases or problem topics in the law. The first and last chapters of the text provide good definition of the scope of judicial power in America including the origins of judicial review, the definition of case and controversy, issues of standing, the political question doctrine, and congressional control of jurisdiction. The usual cases of MARBURY V. MADISON, EX PARTE MCCARDLE, BAKER V. CARR, among others are included, yet DRED SCOTT is not. Particularly good in these chapters are excerpts from works by Bickel, Wechsler, Bork, Choper, and Ely, as well as comments by Thomas Jefferson and other founders on the nature of judicial power. The CAROLENE PRODUCTS footnote number 4 is also presented and there are excellent excerpts explaining the implications of this footnote for defining judicial power. Overall, in these chapters, as is true throughout the book, the cases are well-edited and include most of the important material that undergraduates and advanced scholars would want. Chapters 2 and 3 examine the structure of national legislative and executive power addressing in solid coverage the separation of powers and checks and balances issues. Chapter 2 is exceptionally strong on the national side of taxing, spending, and commerce power noting the latter's rise, fall, rise, and transformation from GIBBONS V. ODGEN though the New Deal and to contemporary cases that address civil rights and environmental regulation. Other subtopics in Chapters 2 and 3 consist of discussions of intergovernmental immunities, executive privilege, and the allocation of foreign policy power. However, the discussion of foreign policy and war powers is split between the two chapters. It is also thin on case law, especially relating to congressional war powers. More secondary commentary and discussion of foreign policy and war powers is needed. Chapters 4 and 5 cover the other side of federalism, that is, state power to regulate, tax, and spend. As in most constitutional treatment of this subject, COOLEY V. BOARD OF WARDENS is the starting point and is juxtaposed to GIBBONS. After COOLEY, cases addressing federal preemption, dual federalism, state burdens on interstate commerce, and the "multiple burdens" test concerning state taxation of interstate commerce are examined. Yet ignored here as well as in Chapter 1 is the reemerging role of state courts in the political system, especially when it comes to state courts defining rights differently from the federal standard. The book seems to assume that state courts are unimportant and ignores their increased independence as of late. Starting with Chapter 6, the civil rights/liberties discussion takes over. Chapter 6 examines economic due process by way of an analysis of the Contract, Due Process, and Eminent Domain clauses of the Constitution. Again, all the usual cases including CALDER V. BULL, THE SLAUGHTERHOUSE CASES, and BERMAN V. PARKER are included. Relatively absent from this chapter are secondary commentary on these cases or inclusion of commentary exploring the recent revival of interest in property rights and the "Takings" clause issue that scholars and the Supreme Court appear to be engaged in. Chapter 7 is the largest and best in the book. It explores the incorporation controversy, the nature and definition of individual rights, and the interpretivism/non-interpretivism issue. This is more of a jurisprudential chapter with reference to a few major cases such as GRISWOLD V. CONNECTICUT, ROE V. WADE, REPRODUCTIVE HEALTH SERVICES V. WEBSTER, BOWERS v. HARDWICK, CRUZAN V. MISSOURI DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH, SHAPIRO V. THOMPSON, and the death penalty cases. The chapter also includes some of the most important excerpted commentary written on these cases, the nature of individual rights, and the problems of interpretation these cases raise. The non-criminal due process and the right to privacy areas are well covered and there are several good edited pieces discussing BOWERS and the racial and economic disparity involved in death penalty sentencing. Chapter 8 is on speech and all the usual topics on the different parts of speech, for example, pure speech and commercial speech are examined. Included as well are cases and discussion regarding hate speech, AMERICAN BOOKSELLERS ASSOCIATION V. HUDNUT, and the controversy surrounding women's rights and pornography. Similarly, Chapter 9 on religion includes the major cases yet little analysis or extended discussion of the Court's current rethinking of the LEMON test is found. Chapter 10 on equal protection is at its best in case presentation and discussion of race and ethnicity, weaker on gender, and not very good at all on gender orientation. In fact, there are no good textbooks that handle gender orientation issues, including AIDS, very well and this is unfortunate. The gender discussion does note the recent move from patriarchy to equality in the law and it does a solid job in presenting the recent role of men and women as litigants in raising equal protection claims. Finally, discussion of other (semi-) suspect classifications, including wealth, is provided but the book ignores secondary commentary on how the current Supreme Court has not simply created three levels of scrutiny but is even now changing how scrutiny is applied to property versus civil rights. Lastly, Chapters 11 and 12 provide analysis of the concept of state action and legislative enforcement of civil and constitutional rights. Especially in light of recent rights retrenchment on the Court, the discussion of the role of the legislative branch to enforce these rights is good; however, exploration of the role of the presidency would also be nice. Overall, the Lockhart volume, including the yearly supplements, is a solid constitutional law text. Yet while this is a very inclusive volume, it can not be fully appreciated or used by most undergraduates as an introductory book to constitutional law. This volume is part of West Publishing's law school series and it is currently and more appropriately used in many two semester law school courses in constitutional law and civil rights/liberties. The book could be used for two-semester graduate political science classes, or as a reference for professors or doctoral students studying for their comprehensives or preliminary examinations. It cannot be adequately appreciated in a traditional undergraduate constitutional law class without significant editing down of the number of cases and commentary included. Moreover, for professors looking for a more policy or political science focused text, this volume is not suitable. But for those looking for a no-nonsense and traditional approach to constitutional law, this would be a solid book in advanced undergraduate or graduate classes.

Product Details

West Group
Publication date:
American Casebook Series
Edition description:
Older Edition
Product dimensions:
7.90(w) x 10.20(h) x 2.40(d)

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