Through the examination of these cases, the authors provide readers with an understanding of the significant role that the Supreme Court performs in shaping the boundaries of governmental power and contours of individual rights and liberties. The review of these modern decisions is provided against a historical backdrop that affords perspective and enriched context. Selection of the landmark decision (Roe v. Wade) as a departure point makes the book particularly useful in understanding the Court's impact upon contemporary American society. Given the controversial nature of this decision, which recognized a woman's liberty to elect an abortion, it also serves as a portal for examining the points and counterpoints with respect to the Court's function. Treadlines during this period profile a Court that grew increasingly cautious in charting constitutional rights and liberties and equality principles and less amenable to unbridled expansion of federal power. Through processes of review that limit protected speech or reflect less concern when speech is burdened by regulation that is not content-based or does not target expression directly, for instance, the Court has imposed significant curbs upon the First Amendment.
Overall, the Supreme Court has become increasingly assertive in reviewing congressional power to regulate in areas that fall within the historical province of the states. This work engenders an appreciation for how constitutional power, rights, and liberties are not a constant over time but works in progress that are subject to the ebb and flow of judicial philosophy. Written for a general audience and particularly accessible for non-law school students and non-lawyers, fact and summary boxes provide quick insight and understanding of cases. Entries include Craig v. Boren (1976), Illinois v. Gates (1983), Immigration and Naturalization Service v. Chadha (1983), Reno v. American Civil Liberties Union (1992), United States v. Virginia (1996), Grutter v. Bollinger (2003), Lawrence v. Texas (2003), Hamdi v. Rumsfeld (2004), and many others. In addition, a glossary defines key terms.