Thomas E. Baker


Constitutional Law is “tough law.” It is tough to master – tough to teach and tough to learn. There are several reasons for this thorough difficulty. First, it is not an exaggeration to say that the fate of the nation is often at stake in constitutional cases and controversies, and constitutional decisions have shaped our history as a people. Second, we Americans can lay claim to inventing the field, and we have been continuously preoccupied with reinventing it for more than two centuries of applied political philosophy. Third, the Supreme Court is one of the most fascinating institutions inside or outside government. Fourth, there is so much extant material - more than five hundred Talmudic volumes of the U.S. Reports full of majority, concurring, and dissenting opinions augmented by the interpretations and implementations of various other constitutional actors in the political branches. Fifth, every October Term's docket presents novel issues for decision, and each new nomination and confirmation renders much of constitutional law indeterminate, so there is a constant sense of uncertainty, anticipation, and discovery in the field. Sixth, constitutional analysis – if one thinks deeper and broader than mere doctrine and three-pronged tests – takes on metaphysical, quasi-religious qualities of immanence and transcendence that are far more profound than any other subject in law school. For these and other reasons, constitutional law is the toughest subject in the curriculum. This review essay will explain why the author uses Ronald D. Rotunda's casebook, Modern Constitutional Law and how he goes about teaching Constitutional Law.