The State and Federal Courts: A Complete Guide to History, Powers, and Controversy

By Wiebe, Todd J. | Reference & User Services Quarterly, Fall 2017 | Go to article overview

The State and Federal Courts: A Complete Guide to History, Powers, and Controversy


Wiebe, Todd J., Reference & User Services Quarterly


The State and Federal Courts: A Complete Guide to History, Powers, and Controversy. Edited by Christopher P. Banks. Santa Barbara, CA: ABC-CLIO, 2017. 513 pages. Acid free $105 (ISBN 978-1-4408-4145-3). E-book available (978-1-4408-4146-0), call for pricing.

This volume provides a very matter-of-fact overview of the American judiciary system at both the state and federal level. The first half is comprised of three "regular" book chapters covering the history and structure and fundamental roles, functions, and powers of the courts--not exactly quick reference material, but these considerable reads could actually make for suitable course material for an American Government class (high school or undergraduate level).

The entire second half is comprised of chapter 4 where the real "referencey" section begins. It is here where the many issues and controversies surrounding the judicial branch are discussed. It is not a chronology of events or rulings, but rather a compendium of some of the more complex and often controversial aspects of the courts, giving examples for each. Topics here include: "Judicial Review" "Public Access to Courts," "Judicial Campaigns and the First Amendment," and "The Role of the American Bar Association." The final section of the chapter gives a rundown of the most polarizing issues that the courts have dealt with over the years. Included here are all the "hot topics" one would expect, such as: "Same-Sex Marriage," "Religious Freedom," "Gun Ownership," "Capital Punishment," "Abortion Restrictions," etc. The currency is evident throughout, with examples drawn from cases as recent as 2016, and by the inclusion of "The Affordable Care Act" as one of the topics discussed. …

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