In this fifth edition of CONSTITUTIONAL INTERPRETATION (and the third produced without Harold Chase), Craig Ducat continues to offer a comprehensive treatment of the major areas of constitutional law. Rather than take a particular thematic approach, the authors seek to provide a set of materials that is "both generous and compatible with many different approaches to teaching about the Constitution" (pp. vii-viii)--and they do just that. The number of cases that are included (in introductory discussions if not excerpted) is nearly exhaustive, and instructors who reflect different styles of teaching will be comfortable with the straightforward manner in which the cases are presented.
The first chapter (Judicial Power) has a somewhat longer introductory section (20 pages) than most of the others, since it includes a description of federal court jurisdiction and case processing in addition to a review of the Supreme Court's interpretation of the nature and extent of judicial power. Interspersed among the case excerpts are some additional discussions that add interest. "When Should Justices Disqualify Themselves?" (pp. 29-31), for example, provides information that is relevant to John Marshall's participation in MARBURY. Sometimes, however, these features seem to be rather abruptly "stuck in." "The Process By Which The Supreme Court Decides Cases" (pp. 46-49) follows EX PARTE MCCARDLE and precedes U.S. V. WOODLEY, a decision by the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals involving the president's power to make recess appointments to federal courts.
Finally, Chapter 1 includes some essays, one by Ducat, for example, on methods by which justices interpret the Constitution (pp. 82-98) and another by Lon Fuller on adjudication (pp. 120- 123). While these topics are certainly not irrelevant, the level at which they are addressed (especially by Fuller) may be beyond the reach of a fair number of undergraduates, and I am not certain that they add much to the text. It is also somewhat curious that, for the most part, the twelve remaining chapters contain neither supplementary essays nor the additional "feature sections" noted above.
Chapters 2, 3, and 4 deal with legislative and executive power; Chapters 5 and 6 cover the powers of the national and state governments in the federal system. A new chapter (7) on substantive due process is a welcome addition. It summarizes the Court's interpretation of the Contract Clause and includes cases on liberty of contract and privacy rights. In this edition, material on procedural guarantees in the administrative process has been eliminated (wisely, I think) from Chapter 8, Due Process of Law. Chapter 9, Obtaining Evidence, is followed by two very thorough chapters on speech and press. Chapter 12, Freedom of Religion and Chapter 13, Equal Protection of the Laws, round out the text.
Surely one of the greatest strengths of CONSTITUTIONAL INTERPRETATION is the wealth of cases it includes. Coverage of the Court's decisions comes in four forms: 1) case excerpts that are appropriately introduced and edited; 2) discussions of other cases interspersed among excerpts in which a fair amount of the Court's ruling is reprinted; 3) tables of additional cases relevant to a particular subject matter; and 4) cases mentioned in chapter introductions. My only disagreement with this format is that the cases which are scattered among the excerpts come up rather abruptly (see, for example, LYNCH V. DONNELLY, pp. 1253-1258; DAVIS V. BANDEMER, pp. 1445-1446). Setting these decisions off by a heading would help. In a similar vein, I think it would be useful for the reader if the chapter introductions were split up so that a discussion of a single topic (for example,
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warrantless searches and seizures, pp. 788-793) immediately preceded the case excerpts in that area (pp. 818-854). A final minor point: the minimum monetary amount in diversity cases has been raised from $10,000 (p. 7) to $50,000.
In addition to being published in one master volume, CONSTITUTIONAL INTERPRETATION has now been divided into two paperback texts which facilitate its use in a three-course sequence. POWERS OF GOVERNMENT includes Chapters 1-7; Chapters 7- 13 comprise RIGHTS OF THE INDIVIDUAL. I used earlier editions of Ducat and Chase when I taught constitutional law in a two-course sequence but had to search for other, more appropriately divided texts when I came to Loyola with its three courses on constitutional law. I will now happily reconsider using one of the most comprehensive casebooks for political science classes on the market.
"The author does an excellent job of interweaving explanation with case excerpts. Many texts in this area focus the case excerpts at the end of each chapter with the authors' discussion of the subject matter taking up the bulk of the chapter. Ducat has mastered the fine art of knowing when explanation is necessary and when the cases speak for themselves."
"It's a very robust text that will work in a number of settings. ...A student who reads this text and digests it will have an excellent foundation in the case law of Supreme Court-based constitutional controversies."
"The major strength of this book is its clear conceptualization of important legal topics and concepts. The current chapters are each well structured and clearly conceptualize and explain the relevant material."