U.S. Court Cases by Magill’s Choice covers the most significant and far-reaching legal contests in our national history. The plate in the first of the three volumes, depicting President Obama and newly confirmed U.S. Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor, signals the currency of this revised edition, as do the dozens of cases heard in the decade since the last edition was published in 1999. The inclusion of articles on Bush. v. Gore, determining the outcome of the 2000 presidential election, and Hamdan v. Rumsfeld, where the U.S. Supreme Court held the president could not establish military commission to try foreign nationals without express congressional authorization, makes this book a much needed update.
A series of introductory articles outline the Anglo-American legal system, our shared concept of the law, the philosophy of jurisprudence, the U.S. Constitution and the Bill of Rights, Constitutional Law, the U.S. judicial system, the roles of state and local courts, the U.S. Supreme Court and the process of judicial review, all of which would be useful to students grappling with government coursework.
Each article related to a specific case includes information about the court that heard the contest, a citation using the proper legal classification, the date the case was heard, conceptual issues related to the case, and a one-paragraph synopsis before the article body. Most of the entries are complete within one concise page, but longer articles are broken into segments with subheadings when appropriate. Straightforward and conversational in tone, the articles will be approachable for student readers. Many articles feature references for more explication, and cross-references point to related articles in the text when appropriate.
In addition to its coverage of the predictable civil liberties and equal protection cases of the twentieth century, there is nice umbrella coverage of some of the issues later legal cases sought to overturn, including that of The Antelope, a case which predated the outlawing of the slave trade and held that a slave ship and its contents were indeed property.
Because the text uses litigants’ last names to order the work, the number of additional access mechanisms included are invaluable. There is a timeline of cases, a subject index, and a category index offering access to groups of cases addressing applicable topics, such as illegal drugs, immigration, pornography and obscenity, parental rights, voting rights, and symbolic speech. There are also paragraph-length biographical sketches of the U.S. Supreme court justices. A geographic index would be a valuable additional access point, as would date designations after the cases in the categorized indexes.
There is an overall emphasis on the linkages between cases and the legal precedent related to a given case. Recommended for school libraries supporting coursework related to the judicial process.