Constitutional Law for a Changing America: A Short Course, Edition 7

CQ Press
Free sample

Drawing on political science as much as from legal studies, Constitutional Law for a Changing America helps students realize that Supreme Court cases are more than just legal names and citations. Ideal for a one-semester course, the Short Course offers all of the hallmarks of the Rights and Powers volumes in a more condensed format.

The authors are known for fastidious revising and streamlining of decisions. A recipient of 12 grants from the National Science Foundation for her work on law and legal institutions, Lee Epstein has authored or co-authored over 100 articles and essays, as well as 15 books, and received the Teaching and Mentoring Award from the Law and Courts Section of the American Political Science Association. Additionally, Thomas G. Walker is the Goodrich C. White Professor of Political Science at Emory University and co-author of A Court Divided, which won the V. O. Key, Jr. Award for the best book on southern politics.

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About the author

Lee Epstein is Ethan A.H. Shepley Distinguished University Professor at Washington University in St. Louis. She is also a fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and of the American Academy of Political and Social Science. A recipient of 12 grants from the National Science Foundation for her work on law and legal institutions, Epstein has authored or co-authored over 100 articles and essays, as well as 15 books, including The Choices Justices Make (co-authored with Jack Knight), which won the Pritchett Award for the Best Book on Law and Courts and the Lasting Contribution Award for making a “lasting impression on the field of law and courts.” The Constitutional Law for a Changing America series (co-authored with Thomas G. Walker) received the Teaching and Mentoring Award from the Law and Courts Section of the American Political Science Association. Her most recent books are The Behavior of Federal Judges, with William M. Landes and Richard A. Posner, and An Introduction to Empirical Legal Research, with Andrew D. Martin.

Thomas G. Walker is the Goodrich C. White Professor of Political Science at Emory University, where he teaches courses in constitutional law and the judicial process. He is the coauthor of A Court Divided (1988), with Deborah Barrow, which won the V. O. Key, Jr. Award for the best book on southern politics, and the Constitutional Law for a Changing America series, with Lee Epstein. He is also author of Eligible for Execution: The Story of the Daryl Atkins Case (2009).

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Additional Information

Publisher
CQ Press
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Published on
Sep 27, 2017
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Pages
840
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ISBN
9781506398679
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Language
English
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Genres
Law / Constitutional
Law / International
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Content Protection
This content is DRM protected.
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Read Aloud
Available on Android devices
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Eligible for Family Library

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This riveting and enlightening narrative unfolds on the night of August 16, 1996, with the brutal and senseless murder of Eric Nesbitt, a young man stationed at Langley Air Force Base, at the hands of 18-year-old Daryl Atkins. Over the course of more than a decade, Atkins’s case has bounced between the lowest and the highest levels of the judicial system. Found guilty and then sentenced to death in 1998 for Nesbitt’s murder, the Atkins case was then taken up in 2002 by the U.S. Supreme Court. The issue before the justices: given Daryl Atkins’s mental retardation, would his execution constitute cruel and unusual punishment, in violation of the Eighth Amendment? A 6–3 vote said yes.

Daryl Atkins’s situation was far from being resolved though. Prosecutors claimed that Atkins failed to meet the statutory definition of mental retardation and reinstituted procedures to carry out his death sentence. Back in circuit court, the jury returned its verdict: Daryl Atkins was not retarded. Atkins’s attorneys promptly filed a notice of appeal, and the case continues today.

Drawing on interviews with key participants; direct observation of the hearings; and close examination of court documents, transcripts, and press accounts, Thomas G. Walker provides readers with a rare view of the entire judicial process. Never losing sight of the stakes in a death penalty case, he explains each step in Atkins’s legal journey from the interactions of local law enforcement, to the decision-making process of the state prosecutor, to the Supreme Court’s ruling, and beyond. Walker sheds light on how legal institutions and procedures work in real life—and how they are all interrelated—to help students better understand constitutional issues, the courts, and the criminal justice system. Throughout, Walker also addresses how disability, race, and other key demographic and social issues affect the case and society’s views on the death penalty.
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