William and Mary Law School

Constitutional Law

Jennifer on Constitutional Lawby Jennifer Morris, 1L

CALI: Computer Assisted Learning Instruction

(Requires access code)

For a more interactive study method, students can check out the wide range of supplemental study material and exercises included in the CALI library. Arranged by topic and sub-topic in the same manner as a traditional study guide, CALI’s online lessons for constitutional law take the reader step-by-step through the subject. At each step, the lessons prompt the student to answer fairly challenging questions before moving on to the next exercise; unfortunately, it doesn’t appear possible to print out questions and answers for later review. Along the same lines, since the exercises proceed dynamically through each lesson, there’s no way to return to a given section or set of questions. Overall, however, these tutorials are extremely worthwhile.

Constitutional Law (9th ed.)

Jerome A. Barron and C. Thomas Dienes
KF4550 .B28 2013
Black Letter Outlines

This rather run-of-the-mill outline lays out the basic principles and issues of constitutional law in a way that mirrors the casebook. Beginning with capsule summaries of relevant topics and proceeding into lengthier, more thorough explanations of each subject, the authors succinctly present rules and exceptions to relevant points of law. Listing one or more real-world examples for each subsection, they provide fact patterns to demonstrate how the laws operate in practice. These examples appear to be the most helpful feature of the book, for they will help students approach questions on the exam more analytically. A practice exam at the end of this study guide gives students further opportunity to tackle problems and compare their answers with model responses.

The Oxford Introduction to U.S. Law: Constitutional Law

Michael C. Dorf
KF4550 .D598 2010
Oxford Introductions to U.S. Law

In this wonderfully concise little book, Dorf covers the major cases and concepts of constitutional law in a way that’s simultaneously sophisticated and accessible. He addresses controversial topics from a constitutional perspective, providing both real-world examples and hypothetical illustrations that make clear both sides of a given argument. Topics build upon one another in a logical, straightforward manner. Unfortunately, the usefulness of this pocket study guide is limited by its size; while the excellently-written summaries introduce students to the subject of constitutional law in manageable sections, they lack the more complete treatment of topics that one can find in a bigger study guide. Dorf’s book is therefore better suited as a companion to a more comprehensive study aid.

Mastering Constitutional Law (2nd ed.)

John C. Knechtle and Christopher J. Roederer
KF4550 .K542 2015
Mastering Series

Intended as a condensed, yet complete, outline of constitutional law, this book skips all the footnotes, external references, and bibliographies one finds in some study guides. Each chapter offers an outline and explanations for the topic at hand, emphasizing the background history of major case decisions in an eminently comprehensible yet nuanced way. Students looking for clarity on subtle constitutional concepts will be more likely to find it here than in the study guides that provide a more “nutshell” approach. Although not the most visually inviting study aid at the outset, this book will be very helpful for those willing to invest the time in wading through its 600 pages.

Acing Constitutional Law

Russell L. Weaver
KF4550 .Z9 A28 2010
Acing Law School Series

This small study guide takes a narrative approach to the rules and issues of constitutional law, telling a story for each topic or subtopic and finishing each chapter with a set of problems and a handy checklist of important points. In organizing the material this way, however, the authors give the impression that they’re more interested in giving a history lesson than in preparing students for exams. While this approach may be more effective for some students, particularly those who dislike the traditional hornbook method of learning, others may wish to have the important principles and issues served up in a more direct and distilled fashion. Although the Acing series is quite popular with students, some have complained that this guide is less helpful than most of their study aids.

A Short & Happy Guide to Constitutional Law

Mark C. Alexander
KF4550 .Z9 A44 2013
Short and Happy Law Series

This short, easy-to-read book summarizes landmark cases and constitutional principles without weighing the reader down with legal jargon. Peppered with witty explanations of why we should be concerned about the topics at hand, the book runs the gamut of key concepts and issues. In addition to providing exam-taking tips, the author includes words of wisdom about law school and legal careers generally. Straightforward and succinct, this study guide seems to be a student favorite.

Constitutional Law (31st ed.)

Jesse H. Choper
KF4550 .Z9 C56 2013
Gilbert Law Summaries

The fact that this study guide is in its thirty-first edition suggests its holding power as well as its popularity with students. Each chapter opens with a brief discussion of key exam issues, then proceeds with concise outlines that lay out various aspects of both procedural and substantive constitutional law. Avoiding technical jargon, the author provides a lot more information than we find in comparable study guides, all the while remaining on-point. Highly recommended.

Constitutional Law (12th ed.)

Steven Emanuel
KF4550 .Z9 E523 2013
CrunchTime Series

The flowcharts included at the beginning of CrunchTime’s study guides seem to be the most distinctive and uniquely helpful feature of the series (at least to this, and other visually-oriented, readers). Like several other books reviewed here, this study aid is a quick and easy read; it is logically ordered and provides prefatory capsule summaries for each chapter. Also helpful are the exam tips, short-answer Q&As, and multiple-choice Q&As at the end of the book. Overall, this appears to be one of the better study guides for students to consult.

Inside Constitutional Law: What Matters and Why (2nd ed.)

Russell L. Weaver
KF4550 .Z9 I545 2015
Inside Series

Nearly 600 pages, this comprehensive study guide emphasizes the essential components of constitutional law at greater length than some of the more popular aids. Although the authors provide thorough and pedagogically-rich explanations that will supplement students’ classroom experience, the case-by-case progression may feel repetitive for some readers. Sidebars and FAQ boxes throughout the text help to punctuate the discussion, but this book probably isn’t the best study guide for exam purposes.

Questions & Answers: Constitutional Law (2nd ed.)

Paul E. McGreal and Linda S. Eads
KF4550 .Z9 M4 2007
Questions and Answers Series

This should be students’ first stop for a quick run-through of multiple-choice questions arranged by topic and subtopic. The authors provide anywhere from one to four questions per topic, along with detailed explanations of the correct and incorrect answers for each question. For those eager to think through both sides of constitutional issues and accompanying legal principles, particularly in anticipation of tricky exam questions, this guide will be very useful.

The Glannon Guide to Constitutional Law: Individual Rights and Liberties (2nd ed.)

Brannon Padgett Denning
KF4749 .D46 2015
Glannon Guides

Like the E&E described below, this book is devoted to learning about constitutional law through a discussion of individual rights and liberties. Well-written with excellent examples and explanations, this study guide provides many helpful, direct references to cases; it also features a handful of multiple-choice questions so students can quiz themselves as they read along. This aid will help to streamline and organize readers’ thoughts (and outlines!) on the relevant topics.

Examples & Explanations: Constitutional Law, Individual Rights (6th ed.)

Allan Ides and Christopher N. May
KF4749 .I34 2013
Examples and Explanations Series

While this study guide won’t cover everything that 1Ls will encounter on their constitutional law exams, it’s an excellent resource for those who want to go more in-depth on their studies of individual rights. The authors devote many pages to historical discussions, so students who want to supplement their casebook readings with a little background context will appreciate the layout of the book; most likely, however, this material will not be what’s covered on the exam. Thus, although helpful as a general instructive tool for this aspect of constitutional law, this E&E is less helpful as a study aid for finals.