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Constitutional Law Guide  

Last Updated: Aug 19, 2015 URL: Print Guide RSS Updates

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Reference Desk 


(619) 961-4351


Marie Templo

Torin Andrews

June Mac Leod

Lisa Foster

Emily Ngo



The following are just some titles on the topic in our collection.  Please browse the shelves around the call numbers given below to find additional material.

Legal Periodicals

Legal periodicals provide a wealth of sophisticated and detailed legal analysis. Typically, law review or law journal articles address a single topic or subtopic in great depth. If legal scholars have written on your topic, you should take pains to identify those articles. You will likely want to cite to those articles in your paper. Additionally, if you hope to write a publishable article, you will need to differentiate your arguments from arguments that have already been made on the subject.

Here are a few legal periodical titles specific to this area of law. Remember that general interest law reviews may also have published articles on your topic, so it is wise to run searches in the larger combined databases on Westlaw and Lexis to ensure that you do not miss any important articles. 



Hastings Constitutional Law Quarterly   Hein   Lexis    Westlaw

Constitutional Commentary   Hein   Lexis    Westlaw

Constitutional Forum   Hein 

University of Pennsylvania Journal of Constitutional Law   Hein   Lexis   Westlaw

Seton Hall Constitutional Law Journal   Hein   Lexis   Westlaw

Duke Journal Of Constitutional Law & Public Policy  Hein   Westlaw



    About this Guide

    Welcome to TJSL's LibGuide for Constitutional Law.   Here you will find information about resources at the TJSL Library that can help you with your coursework, including finding primary and secondary sources, law reviews, journals and websites.



    Preliminary Research

    Secondary sources

    Monographs, hornbooks, treatises, practice guides, internet sources, and databases (Westlaw & Lexis)

    Secondary sources are an excellent place to begin your research. Start with books that provide a broad overview or introduction to the topic. Use these resources to become familiar with the major issues and sources of law that govern the subject. Make notes as you read, including citations to governing primary law as well as your thoughts on potential paper topics. Then, move on to more specific books or look for articles that provide the depth of treatment you will need to fully understand and address your topic.  In the left column are some of the major titles in the subject area.  To find additional titles, browse through the library stacks around the titles listed or do a keyword search on Thomcat, the library catalog.

    Don't forget to check the encyclopedias like American Jurisprudence and Corpus Juris Secundum, found on the Fourth Floor in the library.

    Web Links

    The following represent a few web sites that may be of research value on this topic.  However, you may wish to expand your search on a search engine and check for additional sites on the internet that could be helpful.  Also use different search engines since they do not all check the same sources.


    Primary Sources

    In reviewing the seminal secondary sources, you should have already gathered citations to many relevant documents.  An overview of federal primary law sources is provided below. The same basic types of materials are generated at the state level and can be researched similarly using state-specific tools.



    Statutes give the "laws of the land"--laws enacted by legislation through the US Congress or a state legislature.  Always check to see if there is a statute that governs your particular issue.  You can use the topical indices that accompany the sets of statutes to locate the specific title or section number needed.  If you find a statute on point, check the annotations (if you are using an annotated set) for case law that interprets the statute.   Use KeyCite or Shepard's Citators to make sure the law is still valid. Historical versions of the U.S.C. are available from 1940-- on HeinOnline. Cornell's Legal Information Institute (LII) provides free access to the U.S.C.

    United States Code         Westlaw       HeinOnline      KF62 .A2       Cornell's LII

    United States Code Annotated     Westlaw      KF62 1927 .W45 

    United States Code Service  Lexis       KF62 1972 .L38



    Regulations are rules made by governmental agencies (i.e., Department of Defense, Environmental Protection Agency) on a state and federal level. Each administrative agency is created by statute and "enabled" by the legislature to perform its duties. Agency duties include enforcing or implementing the law, so they are a part of the executive branch. The legislature often enables the agency to promulgate regulations and conduct administrative adjudications. Before promulgating a new regulation, the agency must publish the proposed rules in the Federal Register for public viewing and comment. Final regulations must also be published in the Federal Register and then "codified" in the Code of Federal Regulation.

    The C.F.R. contains the current version of all administrative regulations and is constantly changing as new regulations are promulgated. Because the C.F.R. is constantly changing, it is usually more convenient to research regulations online. There are several online sites that provide free access to the C.F.R., including the federal government's GPOAccess and FDsys. Historical versions of the C.F.R. 1938-- are available from HeinOnline.

    Each administrative agency typically has its own website that provides links to relevant portions of the C.F.R. See here for a list of all federal administrative agencies and their websites.

    Code of Federal Regulations    GPOAccess     FDsys      KF70 .A3      Lexis      Westlaw     HeinOnline



    Cases are judicial interpretations of statuatory laws and common law as rendered in a court opinion/decision.  The full-text of case law opinions are published chronologically in a variety of case law reporter series. Each reporter series typically focuses on one jurisdiction and/or level of court, but there are some reporters that focus on a topical area (e.g., West's Bankruptcy Reporter).

    You can use a digest (they are available for federal as well as state cases) to locate relevant case law by subject.  Look in the descriptive word index (at the end of the set) to direct you to the correct topic and key number within in the digest set. 

    Go to the corresponding topic and key number in the main volumes and you will find references to various cases, divided by jurisdiction and in reverse chronological order. Don't forget to use the pocket part to identify any recent cases, decided since the bound volume was last printed.

    With each case entry, you'll get a brief diescription of how the case addressed your particular legal issue and the case's citation. Use the citation to retrieve the full text of the opinion from the appropriate case reporter series.  Finally, use KeyCite or Shepard's Citators to further expand your research and to make sure the case  is still good law.

    Federal Practice Digest, 5th        KF127 .W48 2013

    United States Reports (official reporter) (abbreviated "U.S.")   KF101 .A212       Westlaw     Lexis     HeinOnline         SCOTUS Website
    United States Supreme Court decisions are published in two other non-official reporters: Supreme Court Reporter (abbreviated "S. Ct.") and United States Supreme Court Reports, Lawyer's Edition (abbreviated "L. Ed." or "L. Ed. 2d")

    Federal Reporter (abbreviated "F." "F.2d" or "F.3d") (federal Circuit Courts of Appeals opinions)       KF105 .F42    Westlaw    Lexis   

    Federal Supplement (abbreviated "F.Supp." or "F.Supp.2d") (federal district court (trial) opinions)        KF120 .F42    


    Treaties & Other Multinational & Bilateral Agreements

    The text of treaties and other international agreements are often available on subject specific websites like and on (through our school's subscription).  The library has the set of United States Treaties and Other International Agreements on microform and also at  KZ 235.3.U55.  Ask a reference librarian for assistance with the microform.  Treaty information is also incorporated in books.  For example, you may want to look at Treaties and international documents used in international trade law located at K 1003.T73 1992. The library also subscribes to sevearl research databases with international materials. To access our subscription databases, TJSL student, faculty, and staff may go to Sign in with your TJSL network ID and password, locate the subscription database you need, and follow the instructions for access.


    Using ThomCat


    ThomCat is the TJSL Library's online catalog. You can search for books, electronic resources, periodicals, audio, video, and more.

    Search by Title, Author, Keyword, or Subject.*


    If the resource you're interested in is a print resource, look for the

    Location (e.g., Federal & Multi-State Materials (4th Floor South)) and
    Call Number (e.g., KF3467 .M3 1979).

    Use the signs at the end of each aisle of stacks to locate the appropriate call number. Books in the Library are arranged by subject, so you may want to browse nearby for more on your topic.


    If the resource you're interested in is an electronic resource, look for a link to the subscription database in which it is located.

    *A Subject search uses specific vocabulary established by the Library of Congress.  For example, "family law" is not a valid subject, "domestic relations" is used instead. If you do not find what you are looking for with a subject search, try a keyword search or ask a Librarian for assistance.



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