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Constitutional Law: Home

Resources on Constitutional Law for 1Ls, bar examinees, and other patrons



Useful Definitions

Appellate ReviewExamination of a lower court's decision by a higher court, which can affirm, reverse, modify, or vacate the decision.

Executive BranchThe branch of government charged with administering and carrying out the law.

FederalismThe legal relationship and distribution of power between the national and regional governments within a federal system of government.

Judicial BranchThe branch of government consisting of the courts, whose function is to ensure justice by interpreting, applying, and generally administering the laws.

Judicial ReviewA court's power to review the actions of other branches or levels of government; especially the courts' power to invalidate legislative and executive actions as being unconstitutional.

Legislative BranchThe branch of government responsible for enacting laws.

Separation of PowersThe division of governmental authority into three branches of government — legislative, executive, and judicial — each with specified duties on which neither of the other branches can encroach; a constitutional doctrine of checks and balances designed to protect the people against tyranny. 

Stare DecisisThe doctrine of precedent, under which a court must follow earlier judicial decisions when the same points arise again in litigation.

All definitions come from Black’s Law Dictionary


Constitutional Law deals with the interpretation and implementation of the United States Constitution. As the Constitution is the foundation of the United States, Constitutional Law deals with some of the fundamental relationships within our society. This includes relationships among the states, the states and the federal government, the three branches (executive, legislative, judicial) of the federal government, and the rights of the individual in relation to both federal and state government. The area of judicial review is an important subject within Constitutional Law. The Supreme Court has played a crucial role in interpreting the Constitution. Consequently, study of Constitutional Law focuses heavily on Supreme Court rulings.

[Summary from Constitutional Law, Legal Information Institute,

(last visited 10/26/2015).]

Subscription Databases

Bloomberg Law : In the Search & Browse tab, choose All Legal Content. In the Select Sources box, type “constitution” the box and select “All Constitutions” or “All Bloomberg Law Reports – Constitutional Law” from the list that auto populates.

Bloomberg Law contains the three versions of a Constitutional Law report: Constitutional Law, Constitutional Law (Daily), and Constitutional Law (Quarterly).

Lexis: Browse Topics—Constitutional Law

Browse Sources—USCS-Constitution of the United States

Westlaw: Under Browse—Secondary Sources—Texts & Treatises—Constitutional Law, various sources are provided, including Smolla & Nimmer on Freedom of Speech, Modern Constitutional Law, and Treatise on Constitutional Law: Substance and Procedure.

Under Tools—West Key Number System, 92: Constitutional Law provides additional topical limits such as Vagueness in General, Right to Privacy, and Privileges or Immunities.

Subject Guide