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Sullivan and Gunther's Constitutional Law, 15th (University Casebook Series)

Sullivan and Gunther's Constitutional Law, 15th (University Casebook Series) - Gerald Gunther You know how we’re always saying that we love reviews that just summarize the plot of a book and then say whether the reviewer liked the book or not? I know, you just sighed and your eyes turned into hearts when you thought about them. Oh, no wait, the opposite. So, this book is the legal version of that. I don’t know whether it was meant to be a study guide, rather than a casebook, or what, but it is the worst casebook I’ve ever read. I hate it. I find the way it is laid out and edited so arrogant that I can’t help but think that Kathleen Sullivan is a pseudonym for Harold Bloom. It’s like the longest law review article ever written. I hate this book.

Most casebooks that I have read will set out a case with some sections edited out. Then, between cases, there will be questions and possibly summaries of other cases that are relevant to the topic, but less important. This book edits within the sentences in the cases. Like, if the judge who wrote the case opinion wrote, “Thus, the plaintiff should win,” the casebook will say, “[T]he plaintiff should win.” So, there are tons of random brackets throughout all of the cases based on how the casebook authors thought the judge should have written the opinion. That’s obnoxious. Also, most of the cases are only summaries written by the casebook authors. THAT DRIVES ME CRAZY!!!! I hate this book.

I’ve really only read about a fourth of this book. Maybe half. So, no one tell VirJohn. It was the text we used for my Con Law II class. The text for my Con Law I class was immeasurably better. Also, this class went sooooo slooooow. I’m really interested in the topic and I like the professor as a person, but I feel like the class moved so slowly that I probably missed some of what I should have learned. Here are the basics of what I know:


The Fourteenth Amendment says, “No State shall . . . deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.” So, equal protection, like due process, only applies to laws of the states. Citizens can discriminate as much as they want (trickier, though, when the private citizen is offering a public service). State laws are unconstitutional if they discriminate, but that doesn’t really mean anything if you just say it like that. Or, rather, it means something way more broad than what the Court has said the Amendment actually means.

When the Court reviews a state law to see if it violates equal protection, the Court either uses strict scrutiny, intermediate scrutiny, or a rational basis test. Strict scrutiny asks whether the law is (1) narrowly tailored to (2) serve a compelling state interest. Rational basis asks if the state had any reason whatsoever to pass the law. So, strict scrutiny almost always overturns laws and rational basis almost always upholds them. Intermediate is in the middle.

When the law involves race discrimination, courts have to use strict scrutiny. When laws involve sex discrimination, courts use intermediate scrutiny. When they involve sexual orientation (and almost everything else), courts use rational basis.


Speech is protected, except when it’s not. I don’t feel like talking about this because I got sick of it during the He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named debacle. First Amendment is still totally my favorite ever, though.

That’s basically all I learned. We talked about money contributions and Citizens United a little bit. We read Perry v. Schwarzenegger, which is now my favorite opinion ever. I literally hugged it while I was reading it. Otherwise, I mostly messed around on the internet, panicked that I missed important things, and then realized that I didn’t miss anything because the class went so slow. There is a rumor that people who took this professor for both Con Law I and II never learned about substantive due process and the right to privacy, so that’s . . . unfortunate. I kind of want my money back for the class, but I’d pay, like 20 bucks for the jokes and shooting-the-shit parts of the class. I’m not stingy.