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This is a real tour-de-force. Really good summaries of the most significant Supreme Court cases. I would recommend this book for high school students taking government or US history; for pre-law undergrads; for law students; for practicing lawyers wanting a crash course in key Court cases outside their fields; and for non-lawyers who just want to better understand the Court. Basically, anyone interested in the Court should add this book to their collection.
Randy Barnett, a professor at Georgetown University Law Center, and Josh Blackman, an associate professor at the South Texas College of Law Houston, have written and published an excellent multimedia platform, “An Introduction to Constitutional Law: 100 Supreme Court Cases Everyone Should Know,” which includes not only the written materials, but also an online access code to obtain additional resources. This multimedia source is a bargain at less than $30. It is a must-have addition for all in the United States to better understand the Constitution and 100 of the most important Supreme Court decisions.
As the cover blurb notes, this resource “will innovate how constitutional law is studied.” Both Blackman and Barnett are conservatives and members of the Federalist Society and originalists. We might differ at times on issues of the court and Constitution, but wherever you are on the ideology spectrum, I highly recommend this book. It is balanced, and describes the decisions in plain English and concisely, but you will learn so much. The book is especially effective when it discusses a series of cases decided over a period of time, such as Roe v. Wade and its subsequent cases.
I agree with the foreword by Erwin Chemerinsky: “Although many of the cases are controversial, [p]rofessors Barnett and Blackman present them in an unbiased and ideologically neutral manner.” The authors tie important cases and issues together, raise thoughts to ponder on the 100 cases they picked and boil those cases down to a few pages, explaining each decision in layman’s terms.
I have not gone online to watch the videos, but Blackman often posts his lectures at South Texas, and they are very informative , and I am confident that the multimedia will only enhance the value of this book. Given the lack of civics knowledge in the nation, we can all use a resource to help us think through that 232-year-old document, the U.S. Constitution. One can learn much about the guiding document and its interpretation by reading this excellent book.
While designed for law students and professors at law schools, it is a book that is digestible and accessible to everyone. Hopefully it will give us a more informed public. Boom to Blackman and Barnett.
The cases are presented in a way that should be understandable by those without training in the law, but do rely on some understanding of the Constitution and Civics. While some of them are well-known (e.g. Dredd Scott), others that are equally important (e.g. Cruikshank) truly deserve the wider audience this book brings.
Two quibbles: the promised videos require an access code, and mine has been slow to arrive. Also, the Kindle version has some formatting issues, most notably stray page numbers that don't match up with the Kindle's formatting.
I’ll preface by saying I’m not a lawyer, I just have great interest in constitutional law.
I purchased the book with the intention of learning more about historic Supreme Court decisions beyond the usual Roe, Wickard, NFIB, etc.
To say I learned new things would be an understatement! Case in point the legal tender cases. I was under the assumption, and partially my fault as it’s what I see on Twitter, that Griswold (1870) concluded that Congress could not issue paper currency.
However, that was not the case! The court said Congress cannot issue paper currency as “legal tender”. This is a huge distinction and it was one of those moments where you feel more knowledgeable.
If you are interested in learning more about under covered, society changing, constitutional law cases, I would 1000% recommend this book.
Professors Barnett and Blackman have done what law students have been demanding for years, and that is deliver the time-honored teachings and wisdom of the U.S. Supreme Court in a contemporary medium that is both engaging and informative. I have used this book for both in-depth analyses of landmark cases in Constitutional Law as well as a quick reference for key concepts effectuated within a case. The organization flows with the progression of the Court by era and philosophy, making the text a must-have for any law student (or practitioner!) seeking expert-level insight from two of the nation's top Constitutional scholars. Delivered hand-in-hand with video case summaries by the authors, this book screams "millennial" while capturing minds across generations. I can't wait to see what comes next from this talented team!
There's only one Constitution, but there are dozens of sometimes-conflicting interpretations of it. This book does an absolutely outstanding job of explaining how the Supreme Court has tackled problems of interpretation over the years. It opened my eyes to an entirely new way of understanding history through the lens of legal decisions. This is a clear, concise, and amazingly well-written book -- not something one usually can say about books by academics. If you have any interest in American history, this one deserves a place on your bookshelf.
I had the same reaction as several other reviewers to the promise of multi-media support (mainly videos) only to discover after you register and jump through some hoops that you have to actually be in law school at a participating institution to take advantage of that part - so that's a detail worth noting.
Otherwise, this is a very well put together volume. Cases are arranged thematically – “Enumerated Powers,” “Federalism Limits on Congressional Power,” “Expanding the Scope of the Due Process Clause,” etc. Most cases get a page or two at most – some up to three – so they get right to the gist of the case and the significance of the decision, then move on. There are no extended quotes from written opinions, but neither are they missed (unless you're into such things).
The regular “Study Guide” questions throughout are reasonably though-provoking while helping the reader zero in on key points without being overbearing about it. It’s an easy book to read straight through, read by topic, or use as an easy reference while focused on other things. It's probably not a great introduction to constitutional law if you don't have SOME foundation already - while quite readable and practical, there's some assumption that the reader isn't starting completely from scratch.
Provides a good overview of significant Supreme Court cases organized in a way that highlight changes/trends in decisions.
I'm not a lawyer or law student and read this for my own understanding of key Supreme Court cases, so I can't compare this book to other casebooks.
There isn't much background material about the cases or different theories of Constitutional Law. The brief synopsis gives just enough context to understand the topic of the case, without going into any detail. Similarly, the presentation of the decisions focuses on one of two main points.
The sequencing and very brief section transitions do help build a sense of how different courts and times have changed the why sections of the Constitution are understood and the role of the court.
Overall recommended as a high-level overview of important cases and how the Court has changed over time. I would have liked to see additional detail about the cases and a bit more about the impact they had, but this book does provide a good starting point for more study.