Main Content

Casebook Credits
Shameful or Ignored Supreme Court Cases

This is a draft of an ebook for my Shameful or Ignored Supreme Court Cases seminar. In form, it is somewhat similar to traditional American casebooks, taking a legal opinion, providing reading notes for it,and condensing it either by elision of peripheral passages or by replacement of material that can be condensed without too much harm. (I also replace typographic errors mostly caused by the use of an OCR system on older texts). It differs from a traditional book in two ways, however. First, I am able to provide direct annotations for various passages, in which you are able to see my comments or see links to related materials.  The annotations tend to be informal and sometimes, I confess, a little snarky. Second, I have made a different tradeoff than is required by the constraints of paper: the opinions in this ebook tend to have fewer deletions than is typical. This lighter hand helps students perform the task they will perform frequently in the real world: dealing with an unedited case. It also provides a more complete flavor of the various justices' opinions than is typical (or possible) in paper-based casebooks. I do edit the cases, however, so that they can actually be assigned for a single class. Carefully reading all the opinions in Dred Scott, for example, is just not possible for the typical law student who has a day or so to prepare.

This ebook also bucks tradition in its substance. The modern American constitutional law casebook treats as outside of the canon matters that one might have thought central to the evolution of the American republic such as treatment of Native Americans, Immigration, the Territories, taxation, slavery (chattel and modern), Congressional investigations, and public lands. This book reflects my own view that these matters, though perhaps not within the practice of every day modern constitutional lawyers in the way that, say, equal protection might be, are extraordinarily important to understanding our nation. Moreover, the issues have a tendency to pop up: the debate over the impeachment of President Donald Trump being an example of the importance of congressional investigatory power or candidate Elizabeth Warren's proposal for a wealth tax  showing the importance of understanding the taxing power more completely. I also don't hide the shameful cases. Dred Scott, Ju Toy, Buck v. Bell, Cruikshank: they're all in there and with their particularly noxious passages in tact. And I don't spare "liberal" cases with which I have deep concerns: Plyler is in this casebook as is Jones v. Alfred Meyer even though the immediate results of the decisions there are ones with which I have great sympathy.

This book is definitely a work in progress. There's more editing to be done. There are cases to be added (and perhaps a few that could be sacrified). You can send me your feedback at


-- Houston, December 2019