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The Oxford Guide to United States Supreme Court Decisions
ISBN 0195139240 / 9780195139242 / 0-19-513924-0
Publisher Oxford Univ Pr
List price $21.50
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Kermit L. Hall, Dean of the College of Humanities, Executive Dean of the Colleges of the Arts and Sciences, and Professor of History and Law at Ohio State University, is well versed in American constitutional and legal history, and has a skillful touch when it comes to editing the contributions of well over 100 legal scholars (from attorneys and state supreme court justices to professors of law, political science, constitutional history, and government), producing a reference tome that invites the attention of lay legal beagles, students of American history, and practicing members of the legal profession.
The first 348 pages are devoted to an alphabetically arranged presentation of more than 400 of the Supreme Court's most significant and consequential decisions, from Abington School District v. Schempp (1963, reaffirming that the establishment clause forbids public schools from sponsoring religious prayerful practices) to Zurcher v. "The Stanford Daily" (1978, ruling 5 to 3 that the Palo Alto police had violated neither the First Amendment guarantee of freedom of the press nor the Fourth Amendment protection against unreasonable searches when they obtained a warrant and inspected the offices of Stanford University's student newspaper). Each case synopsis, generally half a page to a full page in length, describes the background incident, the constitutional issues in question, a concise summary of the reasoning behind the majority and dissenting opinions, what the public reaction was, and in what ways that ruling affected future cases and laws.
In addition, there's a glossary of terms, defining general legal concepts such as bail as well as less commonly known practices such as the Bad Tendency Test, an appendix containing the Constitution of the United States, another appendix covering the nominations and succession of Supreme Court justices, and an exhaustively comprehensive topical index. It's a pleasure to see a reference work that so effectively and engagingly treats the major decisions of the Supreme Court from 1789 to present. --Stephanie Gold [via]