19th Edition

American Constitutional Law Introductory Essays and Selected Cases

    850 Pages 3 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    850 Pages 3 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    This book is a collection of comprehensive background essays coupled with carefully edited Supreme Court case excerpts designed to explore constitutional law and the role of the Supreme Court in its development and interpretation. Well-grounded in both theory and politics, the book endeavors to heighten students’ understanding of this critical part of the American political system.

    New to the 19th Edition

    • An account of the recent Supreme Court transitions, including the Biden Court commission, the appointment of Ketanji Brown Jackson, and the heightened political and ethical difficulties facing the Court.

    • Five new cases carefully edited and excerpted, including Minor v. Happersett (1875) on gender and voting rights, Trump v. Anderson (2024) on access to the ballot, Carson v. Makin (2022) on religious freedom, New York Rifle & Pistol Assn. v. Bruen (2023) on Second Amendment rights, Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization (2023) on abortion rights, and Students for Fair Admissions, Inc. v. President and Fellows of Harvard College, together with Students for Fair Admissions, Inc. v. University of North Carolina on affirmative action.

    • Twenty-one new cases discussed in chapter essays.

    • Tips on reading a Supreme Court decision remains as a box in Chapter One.

    Introduction:  A Political Supreme Court 

    1. Jurisdiction and Organization of the Federal Courts

    2. The Constitution, the Supreme Court, and Judicial Review

    3. Congress and the President

    4. Federalism

    5. The Electoral Process

    6. The Commerce Clause

    7. National Taxing and Spending Power

    8. Property Rights and the Development of Due Process

    9. The Bill of Rights and the Second Amendment

    10. Criminal Justice

    11. Freedom of Expression

    12. Religious Liberty

    13. Privacy

    14. Equal Protection of the Laws

    15. Security and Freedom in Wartime and Pandemic


    Donald Grier Stephenson, Jr. is Charles A. Dana Professor of Government, Emeritus, at Franklin and Marshall College where he taught from 1970 until 2017. Reared on a farm near Covington, Georgia, he is a graduate of Davidson College (1964) and received the M.A. and Ph.D. degrees from Princeton University in 1966 and 1967, respectively. Between 1968 and 1970 he was in the United States Army, completing his service at the rank of captain. He is author of Campaigns and the Court: The U.S. Supreme Court in Presidential Elections (1999), The Waite Court (2003), and The Right to Vote (2004), and is coauthor of American Constitutional Law (18th ed. 2022 and Introduction to American Government (11th ed., 2021). He writes “The Judicial Bookshelf” for the Journal of Supreme Court History.

    Alpheus Thomas Mason (late) was McCormick Professor of Jurisprudence Emeritus at Princeton University.

    Praise for Previous Editions of American Constitutional Law

    "In American Constitutional Law, Mason and Stephenson provide an illuminating look into the institutional tensions inherent in the constitution. This single-volume introduction to Constitutional Law covers both the structure of government as well as the people's rights and liberties. By integrating the latest in Supreme Court politics and electoral politics, this text provides students with the latest perspectives on constitutional developments."

    Kati Mohammad-Zadeh, University of Minnesota

    "Mason and Stephenson’s American Constitutional Law continues to be the gold standard. The book introduction immediately intrigues the reader and offers a rich historical background. The cases are thoughtfully selected, introduced with clear and engaging explanations."

    Robert J. Bresler, Pennsylvania State University

    "Mason and Stephenson’s American Constitutional Law remains the leader among single-volume undergraduate constitutional law casebooks. The cases are masterfully edited, and meticulously written introductory essays place them in their proper context. The engaging part of a course on constitutional law comes from the professor, not the textbook. But Mason and Stephenson certainly make the job easier."

    Richard A. GlennMillersville University