Cover image for The citizen's companion to U.S. Supreme Court opinions : 1996-97 term
The citizen's companion to U.S. Supreme Court opinions : 1996-97 term
May, James F., 1938-
First edition.
Publication Information:
Milpitas, CA : Toucan Valley, [1998]

Physical Description:
x, 822 pages ; 28 cm
General Note:
Includes index.
Added Author:
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
KF101 .C58 1998 Adult Non-Fiction Central Closed Stacks-Oversize Non-Circ

On Order

Reviews 2

Booklist Review

U.S. Supreme Court decisions affect all citizens in many ways, large and small. Oftentimes, however, laypersons have difficulty reading and understanding the terminology and language used in court opinions. This book attempts to alleviate that problem by using everyday language to summarize the key points in each of the 80 decisions issued by the Supreme Court during its 1996^-97 term. It also provides edited versions of majority opinions for "ease-of-reading by the non-lawyer." Opinions are arranged by subject. Because the book covers only one term, most subjects have only one or two decisions listed. There are no cross-references, so use of the index is recommended for more thorough searching. For example, United States v. Wells is listed under the subject heading "false claims," not "banks," even though it deals with the violation of a federal statute making it a crime to knowingly make a false statement to a federally insured bank. The index term banks does, however, refer to the Wells case. The Wells opinion also shows the occasional sloppiness of editing. The text repeatedly refers to Section 1014 without giving a very critical piece of information--the title of the U.S. Code in which the section appears. Anyone who wants to use the book as a starting point for research will be further disappointed by the omission of citations for other cases cited within the decisions. The introduction postulates that this book will make Supreme Court opinions more accessible because the reports in which the decisions are published are not widely available. Although this may have been true several years ago, the growth of public law libraries and the availability of Supreme Court decisions for free on the Internet (argument less convincing today. Persons who wish to read the full text of Supreme Court decisions should be able to find them in print or on the Internet without much trouble. Persons who wish to read summaries will most likely be as satisfied with newspaper coverage as they would be with this book. Not recommended.

Choice Review

With the lay reader in mind, May has dutifully gathered all of the US Supreme Court's opinions from its momentous 1996-97 term. Initially, he offers useful summaries of each of 79 cases and then provides the relevant text of each opinion, absent the many legal citations that (in his judgment) litter so many of the high court's rulings. The final product is best understood as a reference work for the layperson, which aids in discovering the current state of the law on a number of important issues. By contrast, students may find aspects of this work frustrating. May has generally omitted the justices' dissents and concurrences, some of which shed considerable light on the nature of these legal conflicts. His classification of cases may also confuse those who do not already enjoy a working knowledge of the cases gathered. For example, Raines v. Byrd and its lengthy discussion of plaintiff standing is more a case about courts and procedure than the merits of the line item veto. Recommended for colleges that don't currently receive either U.S. Reports, Supreme Court Reporter, or U.S. Law Week. General readers. D. Yalof University of Connecticut