Constitutional Law for a Changing America: Institutional Powers and Constraints

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9781483384054: Constitutional Law for a Changing America: Institutional Powers and Constraints
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Judicial decisions are influenced by myriad political factors, from lawyers and interest groups, to the shifting sentiments of public opinion, to the ideological and behavioral inclinations of the justices. Authors Lee Epstein and Thomas G. Walker show how these dynamics shape the development of constitutional doctrine. Known for fastidious revising and streamlining, the authors incorporate the latest scholarship in the fields of both political science and legal studies and offer rock-solid analysis of both classic and contemporary landmark cases, including key opinions handed down through the 2015 session. Filled with supporting material―photographs of the litigants, sidebars comparing the U.S. with other nations, and "Aftermath" boxes that tell the stories of the parties′ lives after the Supreme Court has acted―the text encourages greater student engagement with the material and a more complete understanding of the American constitution.

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About the Author:

Lee Epstein is Ethan A.H. Shepley Distinguished University Professor at Washington University in St. Louis. She is also a fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and of the American Academy of Political and Social Science. A recipient of 12 grants from the National Science Foundation for her work on law and legal institutions, Epstein has authored or co-authored over 100 articles and essays, as well as 15 books, including The Choices Justices Make (co-authored with Jack Knight), which won the Pritchett Award for the Best Book on Law and Courts and the Lasting Contribution Award for making a “lasting impression on the field of law and courts.” The Constitutional Law for a Changing America series (co-authored with Thomas G. Walker) received the Teaching and Mentoring Award from the Law and Courts Section of the American Political Science Association. Her most recent books are The Behavior of Federal Judges, with William M. Landes and Richard A. Posner, and An Introduction to Empirical Legal Research, with Andrew D. Martin.

Review:

Constitutional Law for a Changing America: Rights, Liberties, and Justice is superb. It entertains students while forcing them to think about the cases and issues. That is a rare achievement for a textbook. [The book] does a great job of placing the cases within the context of their particular eras and reminds students that you cannot divorce courts and their rulings from the rest of the political structure and the times in which the opinions are issued. The text blends social science and law better than any other available today. --Robert M. Howard"

Constitutional Law for a Changing America is a great teaching textbook. Most constitutional law textbooks begin with an interpretive essay, and then just give the cases one after the other in a separate section. [This book] introduces each topic in a comprehensive way, but then embeds the cases in a narrative that helps students see the cases in context. The authors do a great job of introducing each case, explaining how it relates to other cases and pointing out specific things to look for, to help students think about what they're reading. Combined with the bullet points in the new editions summarizing the arguments for both sides in each case, this is tremendously effective in helping students learn and understand both the details of the cases and their broader significance. The photos and "Aftermath" boxes give students a vivid sense of human stories behind the cases. I use this book with confidence that it will help me teach more effectively."--John Kaplan"

My students like the Epstein/Walker text not only because the cases are edited in a way that allows for easy reading, but also because the facts and arguments of each case are separated from the decision itself, giving students some guidance in their reading. The additional excerpts provide context for students that they always want to discuss. As an instructor, I like the online bank of cases because the additional resources permit for flexibility in what cases I choose to cover in class. --Amanda DiPaolo"

Constitutional Law for a Changing America perfectly balances contextual material with the text of the opinions. No other casebook comes close to matching the depth and breadth of supplementary information. The various tables, charts, and graphs all help students place the Court in the broader context of the American political system. The authors accomplish this while still maintaining a focus on constitutional questions and debates. Especially useful are the Arguments sections, which are an exceptionally effective tool for engaging students with the different perspectives in the cases. --Chad Westerland"

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