The Supreme Court of the United States: A Student Companion

By John J. Patrick | Go to book overview
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The articles in this Companion are arranged alphabetically, so you can look up words, ideas, or names as you come across them in other readings. You can then use the SEE ALSO listings at the end of the article to read about related subjects. Some- times you may find that the Companion deals with information under a different article name than what you looked up. The book will then refer you to the proper article. For example, if you look up Judicial Conference of the United States, you will find the notation "SEE Administration of Federal Courts." If you cannot find a separate article on a particular subject, look in the index, which will guide you to the relevant articles. All people are listed alphabeti- cally by last name; for example, the entry for Sandra Day O'Connor is listed as O'Connor, Sandra Day, under O.

You can also use this Companion topically, by reading all the articles about a particular aspect of the Supreme Court. Below are several groupings of topics around common themes.

Biographies: There are articles on all the chief justices and associate justices of the Supreme Court, listed by surname. The biographical entries include personal data about each justice, including the place and dates of birth and death, edu- cation, previous government experience, and period of service on the Court. The articles emphasize participation in notable Court decisions and significant contributions to constitutional law.

Decisions of the Court: The book contains articles on 100 of the most his- torically significant cases decided by the Supreme Court. Each article on a case opens with standard information. The name of the case is followed by the offi- cial citation from United States Reports (for cases since 1875). For example, for Abington School District v. Schempp the citation is 374 U.S. 203 (1963). This means that the opinion in the case is published in volume 374 of United States Reports, beginning on page 203. The year the case was decided follows in parentheses.

Before 1875, official reports of Su- preme Court cases were published under the names of the Court reporters. Thus, these names (full or abbreviated) appear in the citations of the Court's decisions before 1875. For example, the citation for McCulloch v. Maryland is 4 Wheat. 316 (1819). Wheat. is an abbreviation for Henry Wheaton, the Supreme Court Reporter from 1816 to 1827. Thus, this citation indicates that this case can be found in the 4th volume compiled by Wheaton, that it begins on page 316, and that it was decided in 1819.

Each case article in the Companion also provides the vote of the justices on the case; who wrote the majority opin- ion for the Court; who, if anyone, joined with a concurring opinion; and who, if anyone, dissented. Each article on a Supreme Court case also includes background information on the case; the issue or issues before the Court; the Court's opinion and legal reasoning in deciding the case; the dissenting opin- ions, if any, and reasons for them; and the significance of the case in constitu- tional law and history.

Core Concepts: Another category includes articles that define and discuss concepts central to the meaning of con- stitutionalism in the United States and decision making by the Court. There are articles, for example, on the Bill of Rights, Commerce power, Constitutional law, Due process of law, Federalism, Incorporation doctrine, Independent judiciary, Judicial activism and judicial restraint, Judicial review, Jurisdiction, Republicanism, Separation of powers, and Trial by jury.


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