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Constitutional Law for a Changing America

Constitutional Law for a Changing America
Institutional Powers and Constraints

Ninth Edition
Additional resources:

April 2016 | 784 pages | CQ Press
This book draws on political science as well as legal studies to analyze and excerpt cases. With meticulous revising and updating throughout, Epstein and Walker streamline material while accounting for recent landmark cases and new scholarship. The new edition continues well-loved features such as clear delineation between commentary and opinion excerpts, a "Facts" and "Arguments" section before every case,  a superb photo program, “Aftermath” and “Global Perspective” boxes, and a wealth of tables, figures, and maps.
Part I: The U.S. Constitution
Chapter 1: Understanding the U.S. Supreme Court
Processing Supreme Court Cases  
Supreme Court Decision Making: Legalism  
Supreme Court Decision Making: Realism  
Conducting Research on the Supreme Court  
Part II: Institutional Authority
Chapter 2: The Judiciary
Establishment of the Federal Judiciary  
Judicial Review  
Constraints on Judicial Power: Article III  
Constraints on Judicial Power and the Separation of Powers System  
Chapter 3: The Legislature
Article I: Historical Overview  
Congressional Authority over Internal Affairs: Institutional Independence and Integrity  
Legislative Powers: Sources and Scope  
Federal Legislature: Constitutional Interpretations  
Chapter 4: The Executive
Article II: Basic Considerations  
The Faithful Execution of the Laws: Defining the Contours of Presidential Power  
Domestic Powers of the President  
The Role of the President in Foreign Policy  
Chapter 5: The Separation of Powers System in Action
Debates over the Separation of Powers System  
Domestic Powers  
Powers over Foreign Affairs  
Part III: Nation-state Relations
Chapter 6: Federalism
The Doctrinal Cycle of Nation-State Relations  
The Eleventh Amendment and Sovereign Immunity  
New Judicial Federalism  
National Preemption of State Laws  
Chapter 7: The Commerce Power
Foundations of the Commerce Power  
Attempts to Define the Commerce Power in the Wake of Industrial Revolution  
The Supreme Court and the New Deal  
The Era of Expansive Commerce Clause Jurisprudence  
Limits on the Commerce Power: The Republican Court Era  
Commerce Power of the States  
Chapter 8: The Power to Tax and Spend
The Constitutional Power to Tax and Spend  
Direct Taxes and the Power to Tax Income  
Taxation of Exports  
Intergovernmental Tax Immunity  
Taxation as a Regulatory Power  
Taxing and Spending for the General Welfare  
Restrictions on the Revenue Powers of the States  
Part IV: Economic Liberties
Chapter 9: The Contract Clause
The Framers and the Contract Clause  
John Marshall and the Contract Clause  
Decline of the Contract Clause: From the Taney Court to the New Deal  
Modern Applications of the Contract Clause  
Chapter 10: Economic Substantive Due Process
Development of Substantive Due Process  
The Roller-Coaster Ride of Substantive Due Process: 1898–1923  
The Heyday of Substantive Due Process: 1923–1936  
The Depression, the New Deal, and the Decline of Economic Substantive Due Process  
Substantive Due Process: Contemporary Relevance  
Chapter 11: The Takings Clause
Protecting Private Property from Government Seizure  
What Is a Taking?  
What Constitutes a Public Use?  


Instructor Resources Site
Online case archive at
With more than 500 supplemental cases that are mentioned or referenced in the text’s commentary, this online archive has been compiled and edited with great care—the authors have excerpted each case in the same format as those in the text, featuring the justices’ votes, a summary of case facts, and a carefully edited version of the justices’ opinions. The authors continue to post recent cases as soon as each Supreme Court term ends, keeping this invaluable resource as current as possible. As with other editions of Constitutional Law for a Changing America, instructors and students purchasing new copies* will enjoy free access to the online Constitutional Law Case Archive.
*Students purchasing used copies may purchase Archive access for a nominal fee.

SAGE edge for CQ Press

Instructor Resources save time and ease class prep. Register for the password-protected site and download the resources you need.
A Microsoft® Word and Respondus test bank offers a diverse set of test questions and answers for each chapter of the book. Multiple-choice, true/false, short-answer, and essay questions for every chapter help instructors assess students' progress and understanding.

Editable, chapter-specific Microsoft® PowerPoint® slides offer you complete flexibility in easily creating a multimedia presentation for your course. Highlight essential content, features, and artwork from the book.
Student Study Site

SAGE edge for Students provides a personalized approach to help students accomplish their coursework goals in an easy-to-use learning environment.

  • A case study archive with additional online-only cases, along with cases from previous editions
  • A customized online action plan includes tips and feedback on progress through the course and materials, which allows students to individualize their learning experience.
  • Mobile-friendly eflashcards strengthen understanding of key terms
  • Mobile-friendly practice quizzes that allow for independent assessment by students of their mastery of course material

Constitutional Law for a Changing America remains the best political science Constitutional Law textbook on the market. It contains everything I want—an appropriate set of cases, lots of contextual material, and well edited opinions.  It is a title that has evolved smartly without losing its core features.”

Chad Westerland
University of Arizona

Constitutional Law for a Changing America: Institutional Powers and Constraints is by far the best text I’ve found for presenting the broad topics of constitutional law by integrating case law with the broader socio-political context. Epstein and Walker do a fine job of balancing excerpts and analyses throughout the book while keeping an admirably balanced tone."

Rebecca D. Gill
University of Nevada, Las Vegas

Constitutional Law in a Changing America: Institutional Powers and Constraints is a great textbook. What I like the most are the comprehensive ‘Facts’ and ‘Arguments’ sections within each case, which I find vital in teaching and explaining the reasons behind the Court’s outcomes. The introductory chapter explaining how cases arrive at the Supreme Court and the different methods of constitutional interpretation used in resolving cases also provides a natural starting point for discussions of the Supreme Court and constitutional law.” 

Benjamin Bricker
Southern Illinois University Carbondale

“The presentation of cases in Constitutional Law for a Changing America: Institutional Powers and Constraints is useful for both my students and me. The presentation lends itself to in-class discussions, permitting students to participate in meaningful ways.  The combination of legal, political, and historical analysis helps students to understand the multitude of considerations relevant to the Court’s decisions.”

Douglas Rice
University of Mississippi

“The opinions highlighted in Constitutional Law are spot on, summarize both sides of the argument, and make Court’s reasoning available to the students.  The authors do an excellent job of introducing the cases and placing them in the context of a well-defined narrative so that students can understand the broader significance of each decision.”

Linda J. Wharton
Stockton University

“I have used this text for several years and students report enjoying it every year.  The integration of historical documents and the lively commentary about the historical and political contexts of cases bring them to life and make the material more engaging for students.”

Liane Kosaki
University of Wisconsin-Madison

Sample Materials & Chapters

Chapter 1

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ISBN: 9781483384054