My sincere thanks to the University of Pittsburgh Provost’s Office’s Open Educational Resources Initiative and the Law School’s Document Technology Center for their support in the creation and preparation of this electronic casebook.
William M. Carter, Jr.
This electronic casebook is licensed under CC BY-NC 4.0.
About this casebook’s approach:
Students and other readers should be aware that this casebook is comprised almost entirely of court cases. Unlike many law school casebooks, this casebook contains relatively few interstitial summaries, notational materials, or secondary sources. That is by design. Inasmuch as this casebook was designed for teaching an upper-level law school survey course, I believed it to be important that the course materials reflect the fact that close reading and analysis of the actual case law and the ability to synthesize rules and doctrine from a line of cases are fundamental lawyering skills. These skills, in my opinion, can only be fully developed by doing it oneself rather than relying upon others’ summaries and analyses. This is not at all to suggest that summaries, critiques, and analyses of the law in the form of law review articles, treatises, scholarly books, practice guides, etc., are unimportant or unenlightening (I’ve written plenty of them myself, so I certainly hope they add value). Nor do I suggest that practicing lawyers do not or should not turn to secondary sources as may be appropriate in order to supplement their understanding of the case law (I certainly did in practice). Rather, the fact that this casebook consists almost exclusively of cases reflects a deliberate pedagogical choice: that upper-level law students have sufficient foundation in legal reasoning and common-law methods to be expected to engage extensively and intensively with primary source material (i.e., cases), while still benefitting from further skill building in the close reading of the facts and the law, case analysis, case synthesis, and the analogizing or distinguishing of precedent.
I have taken a fairly light hand in editing the cases. I have tried to remove clearly extraneous information (such as parallel and pinpoint citations) and have sometimes chosen not to include all dissents and concurrences in the cases. Beyond that, I have refrained from editing the cases stylistically except where absolutely necessary for the sake of clarity. Students and other readers may therefore find that the cases seem lengthier (or are lengthier) than is typical in casebooks. My reason for this approach was to preserve the cases as near as reasonably possible to the form in which students would encounter them in practice.
Last: this first edition consists primarily of Supreme Court cases, which I thought best for an introductory First Amendment course. I may reexamine this approach in future.