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POSC 272: American Constitutional Law II

Professor Kim Smith - Fall 2020

Secondary Sources: Strategies

Reference books, scholarly books in the library, and the top legal blogs help lead you to the best sources.

  1. Skim through these for background and "need to know" information (like dates, people, etc.).
  2. Look at the references to help you find the most authoritative articles and authors on your case.

Books in the Library

All Formats

Sometimes, you'll find many books devoted to your case and sometimes just chapters within books.  Books and book chapters are excellent tools in your research arsenal!  Content + bibliographies + definitions of terms + important dates + more.

Tips for searching the library catalog:

  • Try a lot of different searches. 
  • On the "Articles & more" side of the first page of results, you'll find reference articles that can be very helpful.
  • In different searches, test as many words as possible that might apply to your case. 
    • e.g. free speech, censorship, freedom of [speech, expression, religion, press], liberty of ____, first amendment, and so on.
  • Click on the hyperlinked subject terms that appear in the results and use the facets (narrower categories) on the side of your search results page.
  • Click on the "Details" tab for the individual result to see the table of contents (to find the chapters on your case if the whole book isn't relevant).

Supreme Court

These are reference books generally about the Supreme Court and major decisions.



Constitution and Amendments

These are some online guides and reference books generally about the Constitution and amendments.

General Law & History

Reference generally about law and history.  Browse or search for more like these in the reference area depending on your topic (and ask me for more suggestions).

Credo Reference

Suggested Research Guides

Research guides for American History and American Studies might be helpful for writing the background section of your case note.