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Constitutional Law Research: Starting Points

Introduction

In fall 2023, Brooklyn Law School Library Fellow Cara Eckenrode developed this guide under the supervision of Reference Librarian/Adjunct Professor Dacia Cocariu and Associate Librarian for International Law Jean Davis.  Some content is reproduced from existing BLS Library guides with the permission of Jean Davis.  This guide highlights publicly accessible sources and BLS Library's subscription sources.  Within a guide box, books are listed "newest to oldest."  Please reload this guide's page each time you visit.  

Need help identifying material to support your research?  Email: askthelibrary@brooklaw.edu or text: (718) 734-2432  

BLS students, faculty and staff: Some sources in this guide (e.g., Law.com's news category: Constitutional Law, LegalTrac's Topic Finder, HeinOnline's World Constitutions Illustrated) are only accessible remotely through the BLS proxy server. Click here to access the BLS proxy instructions - librarians recommend the instructions for Firefox browser.  Contact library.lab@brooklaw.edu for initial help implementing the BLS proxy instructions.   

On Oct. 13, 2023, Brooklyn Law School hosted the event: Civil Liberties: The Next Hundred Years.  This was a panel discussion featuring BLS Professor Susan N. Herman (former President of the American Civil Liberties Union from 2008 to 2021) and other civil libertarians.

  • This year, Professor Herman published the book: Advanced Introduction to US Civil Liberties (Edward Elgar Publishing, 2023).  This book is available in both the circulating Main collection and in the first-floor Course Reserve collection.
    • Publisher's description of this book: “This insightful Advanced Introduction provides a kaleidoscopic overview of key US civil liberties, including freedom of speech, press, assembly, and religion, limitations on search and seizure, due process in criminal proceedings, autonomy rights, rights of equality, and democratic participation.”

How Do I Find the World's Constitutions?

Subscription:

Brill: Foreign Law Guide (Marci Hoffman, general ed.) - In each jurisdiction's entry, topic: Constitution & Politics identifies/might link to primary sources + provides cites to secondary sources. 

  • Tip: In Foreign Law Guide's search box, type: country name + word: constitution, e.g., Mexico constitution

HeinOnline: World Constitutions Illustrated - Seeks to provide constitutions for every country of the world in the original language(s) + English translations of constitutions. Also includes commentary.  Browse by country.  

The two sources above are accessible on campus, in BLS housing, and elsewhere off campus if one has implemented the proxy server instructions. 


Publicly Accessible:

Comparative Constitutions Project, Constitute: The World's Constitutions To Read, Search and Compare 

International Constitutional Law Project, Countries

U.S. Library of Congress, Guide to Law Online: Nations of the World - Choose a jurisdiction's guide > click guide tab: Constitution.

Focus: Analysis:

WORLD Policy Analysis Center, Constitutions

Focus: Constitutional Compliance:

Comparative Constitutional Compliance Database v. 2.0 

Related open-access article: Jerg Gutmann, Katarzyna Metelska-Szaniawska & Stefan Voigt, The Comparative Constitutional Compliance Database, The Review of International Organizations (published May 25, 2023).

How Do I Find the U.S. Constitution?

Subscription:

Westlaw: Constitution of the United States as published in United States Code Annotated - Includes notes of decisions.

Westlaw: U.S. Constitution Find Template - Enter an article or amendment of the United States Constitution.  Retrieve the amendment or article in United States Code Annotated

Lexis+: Constitution of the United States as published in United States Code Service - Includes notes to decisions. Tip: Log in to your Lexis+ account, then click the recommended link.


Publicly Accessible:

Focus: Text + Analysis:

GovInfo - Includes Constitution of the United States of America: Analysis and Interpretation. [Provider of analysis: Congressional Research Service (CRS) at the Library of Congress.] 

U.S. Library of Congress: Constitution Annotated - Includes recent Congressional Research Service documents, historical documents about the U.S. Constitution and the text: Constitution Annotated

                   

Interactive Constitution (from the Center for the Constitution at Georgetown) - An interactive database that “categorizes and summarizes more than 1500 law review articles, essays, and other scholarship related to the original meaning of each constitutional provision”

Focus: Historical Research:

Liberty Fund, The American Revolution and Constitution - Provides digital access to texts in the public domain, such as: The Records of the Federal Convention of 1787, ed. Max Farrand (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1911). 3 vols (Click a vol. at the bottom of this web page.)

The Library of Congress has research guides related to the history of the Constitution.

How Do I Find U.S. State Constitutions?

Subscription:

Westlaw: Statutes and Court Rules > Click a U.S. state.  Provides the state's constitution. Click on a section of the state's constitution.  There often will be notes of decisions

Lexis+: Constitutions > Click a U.S. state.  Provides the state's constitution. Click on a section of the state's constitution.  There often will be notes to decisions. [Provider: Lexis+.]  Tip: Log in to your Lexis+ account, then click the recommended link.

HeinOnline: State Constitutions Illustrated - Offers constitutions of the 50 U.S. states and "related documents and resources." Includes original, consolidated and current versions. Links to related scholarly articles.

Example: State Constitutions: New York - Offers multiple sources of a state constitution's original text, amendments, and consolidated texts. Includes "editorialized annotations only found in this collection."


Publicly Accessible:

U.S. Library of Congress, Guide to Law Online: U.S. States and Territories - Choose a state guide > click guide tab: Constitution.

Prof. John Joseph Wallis, NBER/University of Maryland State Constitutions Project - Supports searching by state, version of a state constitution, article number, section number and amendment number.

Focus: New York

Historical Society of the New York Courts, Common Law, Charters & Constitutions - Provides "various charters that were in force in the colony of New York, the constitutions adopted by the people of the State of New York since the Revolution, and the federal constitution and its Bill of Rights."

Where Do I Start in Subscription Legal Databases?

Lexis+ Browse for Topic Information: Constitutional Law - Covers topics ranging from the Bill of Rights to the Presidency. Tip: Log in to your Lexis+ account, then click the recommended link.

Tip: Choose a topic above and view available materials filtered by type.

Lexis+ Practice Area: Constitutional Law - Includes: constitutional law cases: case-related materials; the U.S. and state constitutions (tip: click: Statutes and Legislation > run a search, for example: New York Constitution article 1); selected treatises; selected legal journals; news; and legal news.  Tip: Log in to your Lexis+ account, then click the recommended link.


Westlaw does not provide a "practice area" page of constitutional law sources on its home screen.  Below are some starting points:

Westlaw: American Jurisprudence: Constitutional Law (= topic in a legal encyclopedia)

Westlaw: Corpus Juris Secundum: Constitutional Law (= topic in a legal encyclopedia)

Westlaw: American Law Reports Index (to annotations on points of law) > link: Index Contents > "C" - Includes links to ALR annotations under topic: Constitutional Law. 

Westlaw: Civil Rights Legal Materials & News

Westlaw: Constitutional Law Legal Newspapers & Newsletters + Constitutional Law Texts & Treatises

When Was This Guide Last Updated?

In fall 2023, Brooklyn Law School Library Fellow Cara Eckenrode developed this guide under the supervision of Reference Librarian/Adjunct Professor Dacia Cocariu and Associate Librarian for International Law Jean Davis. 

This guide was last substantively updated:

On: Feb. 16, 2024

At:  8:56 AM

By: Jean Davis