Authors of constitutional law casebooks traditionally have presented their subject through Supreme Court opinions arranged under the three general groupings of judicial review, distribution of powers (federalism and separation of powers), and individual liberties. This organizational consensus rests upon two widely held and deep beliefs: a basic course in constitutional law should (1) consist of a rigorous and sustained study of substantive doctrine and (2) be undertaken principally through a detailed examination of Supreme Court decisions, albeit supplemented in varying degrees by authors' questions and law review excerpts.
Paul Brest's Processes of Constitutional Decisionmaking poses a formidable challenge to this standing wisdom. The book is divided into two parts. Part I concentrates on the process by which constitutional principles are derived by any decisionmaker, whether that person be judge, legislator, or executive official, and Part II addresses the special role of the judiciary in constitutional exegesis. In place of substantive doctrinal exposition, Professor Brest's focus is on questions of process and methodology which cut across the standard substantive topics. Indeed, six of his fifteen chapters are entirely process-oriented; while the remaining nine chapters center on substantive doctrinal exposition within the traditional three groupings, even here the emphasis is upon methodology.
Henry P. Monaghan,
Processes of Constitutional Decisionmaking: Cases and Materials,
Harv. L. Rev.
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