Can your students get a good understanding of constitutional law if you leave out the politics? Epstein and Walker would say no and believe that any study of constitutional law is richer and more rewarding when its political context is emphasized. Simply put, political factors influence judicial decisions. Arguments and input from lawyers and interest groups, the positions of elected officials, the ebb and flow of public opinion, and especially the ideological and behavioral inclinations of the justices all combine to influence the development of constitutional doctrine. Drawing on political science as much as from legal studies, Constitutional Law for a Changing America helps students realize—quite powerfully—that Supreme Court cases are more than just legal names and citations. The landmark cases analyzed and excerpted in this exceptional two-volume set involve real people embroiled in real disputes whose cases have real political consequences.
The authors have carefully created structure and features in each chapter that enhance learning. Not only do they provide substantive commentary around cases, helping students to see a case within the larger picture of an evolving and dynamic body of law, they encourage students to see alternative points of view by including excerpts of important concurring and dissenting opinions for virtually all cases in the book. The popular Aftermath and Global Perspective boxes answer students’ lingering questions about what happened to litigants after a ruling or how U.S. case law compares to the law in other nations.. Epstein and Walker also include profiles of influential groups and justices, photographs of litigants, exhibits from cases, and lively descriptions of the events that led to the suits. Web addresses are included throughout, giving students easy access to the full text of opinions as well as to audio recordings of oral arguments when available.
In a thorough exploration of the Supreme Court’s interpretation of the political power distributed by the Constitution, Epstein and Walker examine such essential concepts as separation of powers and federalism, as well as the government’s authority to conduct war, regulate commerce, tax, spend, and limit rights to property and contracts. This revised volume includes both recent and important rulings on limits to federal power, and thoughtfully examines the impact of national emergencies, terrorism, and the war in Iraq on the government’s capacity to act in the interests of national security.