Today's casebooks are far better adapted for fostering constitutional competency among lawyers than were their earlier counterparts. Part 1 of this Article traces the evolution of the constitutional law casebook from James Bradley Thayer's massive compilation of raw data in the Dean Langdell tradition, to the modern style of extensively edited cases with comments and questions to help students identify, anticipate, and assess potential avenues of analysis and development. Part 2 examines some basic concepts of federalism law still afforded too little attention by casebook editors. The classic analysis of enumerated powers (including Congress's power under the necessary and proper clause) was eclipsed a century ago by the rise of the misconceptions now commonly generalized as "dual federalism." Justice Stone led a revival of the classic approach beginning in 1937, but just as its operation under modern conditions was beginning to be made clear, Justice Black set a contrary course which led to federalism issues being treated for decades less as issues of law than as political questions. Part 3 details those developments, and Part 4 then discusses the challenge and opportunity facing casebooks now that federalism has attracted renewed judicial interest and constitutional opinion teeters between refining the viable, classic constitutional analysis of federal legislative power, and falling back on the old, discredited dual federalism idea.
David E. Engdahl, Casebooks and Constitutional Competency, 21 SEATTLE U. L. REV. 741 (1998).