Preface (1992)

Author:Leonard W. Levy, Kenneth L. Karst, John G. West
Pages:xiii-xv
 
FREE EXCERPT

The continuing deluge of problems and developments concerning the Constitution makes an updating of the Encyclopedia of the American Constitution desirable. The Supreme Court decides at least 250 cases annually, about 150 of them with full opinions. Before the bicentennial of the ratification of the Bill of Rights concludes, the Court will have decided about 1,500 cases since we finished the manuscript for the four-volume edition in mid-1985. New opinions of the Court are having a substantial impact on most of American constitutional law and the public policies that it reflects.

The Court itself is undergoing major changes in personnel. Chief Justice Warren Burger and Justices Lewis H. Powell, William J. Brennan, and Thur- good Marshall have retired. William H. Rehnquist now sits in the center seat; Antonin Scalia succeeded to Rehnquist's former position; Anthony Kennedy became Powell's successor; David H. Souter holds Brennan's old chair; and Clarence Thomas succeeds Marshall. Changes in personnel herald additional and significant changes in constitutional law. For example, the Senate Judiciary Committee hearings on the nomination of Robert H. Bork, in itself a landmark event, reflected a national concern on all sides for the integrity and impartiality of the Court and its interpretation of the Constitution.

As we finished editorial work on the Encyclopedia in 1985, the Department of Justice intensified a broad attack on the "judicial activism" of the Supreme Court, the finality of its decisions, and its incorporation doctrine, which makes the Bill of Rights applicable to the states. Soon after, the protracted Iran-Contra inquiries raised some of the most important constitutional issues since Watergate. New, important, and even sensational developments of concern to the Constitution have become almost common.

This Supplement to the Encyclopedia has enabled us to present many topics that we had originally neglected and to cover all major developments and decisions since 1985; it includes articles on the full range of developments

in constitutional law. Because we wanted the Supplement to be a free- standing volume, as well as an additional volume to the original work, we instructed contributors to introduce each article with a short background to its topic and to write as if the Encyclopedia did not exist. In addition to articles on concepts such as abortion, affirmative action, establishment of religion, equal protection, and free...

To continue reading

FREE SIGN UP