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Current Issues in Constitutional Litigation cover

Current Issues in Constitutional Litigation: A Context and Practice Casebook, Second Edition

by Sarah E. Ricks, Evelyn M. Tenenbaum

2015, 850 pp, casebound, ISBN 978-1-61163-728-1


Teacher's Manual available

Current Issues in Constitutional Litigation

A Context and Practice Casebook

by Sarah E. Ricks, Evelyn M. Tenenbaum

Table of Contents (PDF)

766 pp  $88.00

ISBN 978-1-59460-427-0

This title is out of print and may have reduced or no availability. Please contact us for more information about ordering.

To access the 2015 Supplement to this text, click here.

Current Issues in Constitutional Litigation by Sarah E. Ricks, with contributions by Evelyn M. Tenenbaum, focuses on the constitutional and statutory doctrines necessary to litigate 4th, 8th, and 14th Amendment claims, and 1st Amendment religion claims that arise in prison. Every chapter places students in roles as practitioners handling simulated law practice problems; provides a doctrinal overview; includes exercises, visual aids, and questions to guide student reading; and includes materials that help students reflect on their professional roles. In addition to Supreme Court decisions, materials include differing circuit court applications of doctrine, jury instructions, oral arguments, briefs, expert reports, and other practical documents. The text provides factual context by including background about the work of prison guards, police, and social workers.

Current Issues in Constitutional Litigation could be used for 2, 3, or 4-credit course or for a Section 1983 constitutional clinic.

The Teacher's Manual includes banks of multiple-choice and essay questions and answers and teaching guides for exercises and law practice simulations. This casebook is designed to make it easier to implement the ideas in the Carnegie Foundation's Educating Lawyers (2007) and Best Practices for Legal Education (2007) by integrating the teaching of doctrine and skills and using multiple methods of instruction.

Evelyn Tenenbaum, Albany Law School, contributed chapters on the 11th Amendment and 1st Amendment religion issues that arise in prison.

The Teacher's Manual includes banks of multiple-choice and essay questions and answers and teaching guides for exercises and law practice simulations.

This book is part of the Context and Practice Series, edited by Michael Hunter Schwartz, Professor of Law and Dean of the University of Arkansas at Little Rock Bowen School of Law.

"[This] book improves upon the old casebook model in two important ways. First, it places each case in a broader context that helps explain the doctrinal developments that might otherwise feel counterintuitive or arbitrary to students who limit their study of the subject to the four corners of the opinions. ...Second, the book emphasizes the advocate's role in shaping the development of constitutional law." — Nicholas J. Wagoner, Circuit Splits Blog

"This new casebook admirably fills a significant need in the teaching of constitutional litigation. For many years, law teachers of this important topic have either had to generate their own materials or choose among some few standard case books. Now, Professor Ricks has authored a new and quite different casebook. Professor Ricks approaches the constitutional and statutory materials from several perspectives: doctrinal development, legislative responses, litigation decisions, and practical considerations that inform the litigation and decision making in this area. Included in each substantive chapter are the social and political contexts of the constitutional issues, leading Supreme Court and Circuit Court opinions, excerpts from oral arguments on major cases in the Supreme Court, legislative initiatives, expert reports, jury instructions, representative pleadings, and even interviews with leading civil rights litigators. As an example, the chapter on prisoner rights litigation includes the leading cases, but also provides a rich mix of materials from litigation files, investigative reports from public interest organizations, and legislative hearings. Professor Ricks also provides thoughtful questions and innovative simulations that will encourage students to think through these problems from the perspectives of the lawyers, inmates, prison officials, judges, and legislators. The world of constitutional litigation is far broader than case law. Professor Ricks has captured the multi-dimensional aspects of this field and has produced a casebook that will greatly enhance teaching, learning and practice of constitutional litigation." — David Rudovsky, Founding Partner, Kairys, Rudovsky, Epstein & Messing, and Senior Fellow at the University of Pennsylvania Law School

"Sarah Ricks has created an incredibly useful, contextually-based casebook that tells the story of constitutional litigation from many different perspectives. Students go behind the scenes and come to understand litigation from reading not only case law, but from examining briefs, oral arguments, pleadings, and expert opinions. For professors and students who want more from legal education than the unadorned case-method approach can provide, Professor Ricks has compiled a set of materials that brings the case law to life. Teaching and learning about constitutional litigation will be a much richer experience thanks to her efforts." — Karen Blum, Professor of Law, Suffolk University Law School

"This book does careful justice to an area of constitutional law that is often overlooked - domestic violence. By featuring in the Due Process chapter the Castle Rock case in which the Supreme Court with a stroke of the pen virtually eviscerated mandatory arrest around the country, and excerpts from the Supreme Court briefs, it demonstrates the risks as well as the potential in looking to courts to advance women's protections." — Joan S. Meier, Esq., Professor of Clinical Law Director, Domestic Violence Legal Empowerment and Appeals Project George Washington University Law School

"...the focus is on practice — not law school theory. Unlike so many texts which just focus on Supreme Court cases, this case book includes cases from the lower court courts as well as excerpts from briefs. The book includes simulations which involve realistic situations... [and] actually helps students to learn to practice law and not just to read cases." — Mitchell H. Rubinstein, Adjunct Law Prof Blog (

"...Professor Ricks has, in fact, offered a trenchant account of how civil rights law is a catalogue of public morality and a registry of social consciousness; how any civil rights doctrine, whether significant or minor, whether honored or abused, reveals something about the people who adopted it and the ideas they profess to hold dear; and how civil rights litigation is not merely (or indeed mainly) a contest over the technical requirements of judicial, legislative and administrative rules but a reflection of American society's ideas of justice, fairness, power, equality and democracy. But above all this: Professor Ricks has managed to accomplish in this textbook, with prose at once clearheaded and lyrical, in a format at once straightforward and complex, and with materials at once conventional and unexpected, the difficult and seemingly contradictory task of pointing the way to the future of the casebook while at the same time proving herself a true intellectual heir to Langdell's original vision of the case method." — Aderson Bellegarde François, Howard University School of Law

"[T]he text avoids a bare recitation of theory, but rather focuses on the skills practicing lawyers need. This is not to say that the text lacks a thorough doctrinal foundation: it provides the necessary background on the historical, political, and social context of constitutional litigation to provide the reader with context as to how the law has evolved." — Stephen Tucker and Rachel Feuerhammer, Rutgers Journal of Law & Public Policy