Research Guides List | Databases List

Introduction
Constitutional law is the body of law derived from the Constitution of the United States.  This guide provides information regarding the various sources of constiutional law and where to locate them.
Getting Started
Constitutional Law is the body of law derived from the United States Constitution and primarily includes issues of government power, civil rights, and civil liberties.  When conducting research in constitutional law, researchers may want to begin by reviewing the text of the Constitution and its amendments.

Researchers unfamiliar with this area of law should review the secondary sources covering this topic.  Secondary sources provide an interpretation of the law and often provide citations to relevant primary sources.  Secondary sources include treatises, which cover all topics of the body of law, and law journal articles, which provide a comprehensive discussion of a specific issue within the area of law.

Researchers will also need to review the primary authority.  Primary sources for constitutional law include the actual text of the U.S. Constitution and court decisions from the Federal Courts, particularly the United States Supreme Court.  Many secondary sources will cite the primary sources, so researchers should note those citations for further review.
The United States Constitution
The Constitution of the United States was written in 1787, ratified in 1788, and has been in operation since 1789.  Images of the original document and a transcript of the text are available from the National Archives.  The National Archives also provides access to the images and transcripts of the Bill of Rights, the first ten amendments to the Consitution written in 1789.

The text of the Constitution along with all ratified amendments can be located in most statutory compilations:

United States Code
LAW FEDERAL 1st floor  KF 62 2006 .A2

United States Code Annotated
LAW REFERENCE 2nd floor  KF 62.5 .W45

United States Code Service 
LAW FEDERAL 1st floor  KF 62.5 .L49
Finding Cases
When researching constitutional law cases, researchers should note that the constitutional law is the jurisdiction of the Federal Courts, particularly the United States Supreme Court.  Researchers may search just the United States Supreme Court cases on Westlaw or LexisNexis, if they have access.

Researchers without access to those databases can review the opinions of the U.S. Supreme Court from 2008 to current on the Court's website.  Additionally, Cornell University also provides Selected Constitutional Law Decisions of the U.S. Supreme Court from its Legal Information Institute.


Westlaw

Besides searching just the U.S. Supreme Court cases, cases covering constitutional law can be located in Westlaw under the Westlaw Topic Number 92.  Some of the specifc areas of constitutional law are futher divided by key number, including:

Constitutional Rights In General, k1050-k1129
First Amendment In General, k1150-k1209
Freedom of Religions and Conscience, k1290-k1429
Equal Protection, k3000-k3839


LexisNexis

LexisNexis also provides access to all documents (primary and secondary) under its Constitutional Law & Civil Rights topic. 


Digests

Researchers can also search for cases in print in the digests.

United States Supreme Court Digest (West)
LAW FEDERAL 1st floor  KF 101.1 .W47

Digest of United States Supreme Court Reports, Lawyers' Edition (LexisNexis)
LAW FEDERAL 1st floor  KF 101.1 .L39
Cancelled in 2011

Federal Digest (West)
LAW FEDERAL 1st floor  KF 127 .F43
Treatises
Treatises can provide an overview of the area of law and some provide in-depth coverage of the area.  They also often provide citations to primary sources.  Treatises related to Constitutional Law are located on Reserve on the second floor of the law library or on the first floor of the law library in call numbers KF 4501-5301.  Researchers can also locate them by browsing the library catalog under the subject heading, Constitutional Law--United States.


Encyclopedias

American Jurisprudence
LAW REFERENCE 2nd floor  KF 154 .A522
Constitutional Law (Vol. 16A-B)

Corpus Juris Secundum
LAW STACKS 2nd floor  KF 154 .C422
Constitutional Law (Vol. 16A-D)

Encyclopedia of the American Constitution
LAW REFERENCE 2nd floor  KF 4548 .E53 2000
This treatise includes articles written by constitutional scholars covering all topics of consitutional law.


Introductory and Reference Sources

The Constitution of the United States of America: Analysis and Interpretation
LAW STACKS 1st floor  KF 4527 .U54
Availailable online through the GPO at FDsys.
Provides access to the full text of the Constitution, along with historical notes and annotations to cases decided by the United States Supreme Court.

Constitutional Law in a Nutshell
LAW RESERVE 2nd floor  KF 4550 .Z9 B35 2009

The Oxford Companion to the Supreme Court of the United States
LAW REFERENCE 2nd floor  KF 8742 .A35 O93 2005
This resource covers the key principles of constitutional law and entries regarding the key cases.

A Practical Companion to the Constitution
LAW REFERENCE 2nd floor  KF 4548 .L54 1999
Provides essays covering the key principles and cases in constitutional law.

Principles of Constitutional Law
LAW RESERVE 2nd floor  KF 4550 .N62 2010

Understanding Constitutional Law
LAW RESERVE 2nd floor  KF 4550 .R43 2012


Major Treatises

American Constitutional Law
LAW RESERVE 2nd floor  KF 4550 .T785 1999
Provides in-depth analysis of constitutional law and policy.

Modern Constitutional Law
LAW STACKS 1st floor  KF 4550 .A75 2011
Provides analysis of issues regarding modern constitutional law.

Treatise on Constitutional Law: Substance and Procedure
LAW STACKS 1st floor  KF 4550 .R6315
The most comprehensive and in-depth coverage of federal constitutional law issues.
Law Journal Articles
Law journal articles usually provide a thorough analysis of a specific issue within constitutional law and also provide citations to primary sources.  There are some law journals specifically dedicated to issues of constitutional law, but many other law journals may include articles on constitutional law issues.


Constitutional Law Journals

Remote access to these law journals is restricted to the CU Law School Community.

Akron Journal of Constitutional Law and Policy
Constitutional Commentary
Duke Journal of Constitutional Law & Public Policy
First Amendment Law Review
Seton Hall Constitutional Law Journal
University of Pennsylvania Journal of Constitutional Law
William & Mary Bill of Rights Journal


Civil Rights annd Liberties Law Journals

Remote access to these law journals is restricted to the CU Law School Community.

Harvard Civil Rights-Civil Liberties Law Review
NYU Journal of Law and Liberty
Stanford Journal of Civil Rights & Civil Liberties
Temple Political & Civil Rights Law Review
Texas Journal on Civil Liberties & Civil Rights


Law Journal Databases

Researchers can search for articles covering specific issues of constitutional law in the following databases.  Some of the databases provide full text of the articles and others just provide the citation and an abstract of the article. Remote access is restricted to the CU Law School Community.

HeinOnline
Index to Legal Periodicals Full Text
Index to Legal Periodicals Retrospective, 1908-1981
LegalTrac
Westlaw Law Reviews & Journals
LexisNexis Law Reviews, CLE, Legal Journals & Periodicals, Combined*
*Access restricted to the CU Law School Community only.
Constitutional History
There is no official record of the proceedings of the Constitutional Convention of 1878, though James Madison did keep a journal of the procedural information.  However, there are a number of primary and secondary sources that discuss the Convention and the arguments for and against the adoption of the Constitution.

Primary Sources

The Federalist
LAW STACKS 1st floor  KF 4515 .F4
The Federalist is a compilation of essays supporting the ratification of the U.S. Constitution written by Alexander Hamilton, James Madison and John Jay.

Records of the Federal Convention of 1787
LAW RARE BOOKS basement  KF 4520 .U556 1911
A collection of the documentary records of the Constitutional Convention, compiled by Max Farrand in 1911.

Notes of Debates in the Federal Convention of 1787
LAW STACKS 1st floor  KF 4510 .U54

The Library of Congress also provides access to a number of documents related to the Continental Congress and the Constitutional Convention from the American Memory Project, A Century of Lawmaking for a New Nation.

Secondary Sources

A Comprehensive Bibliography of American Constitutional and Legal History
LAW STACKS 1st floor  KF 4541 .H34 1984

The Documentary History of the Ratificaition of the Constitution
LAW STACKS 1st floor  KF 4502 .D63

The Founder's Constitution
LAW STACKS 1st floor  KF 4502 .F68 1987
Subject Specialist
Picture: Robert Linz

Robert Linz
Associate Director & Head of Public Services
Tel: 303 492-2504