If you haven’t had a chance to check out the Law School’s Digital Repository, I would highly encourage you to do so. Not only do we house electronic versions of every issue of every law journal that has been hosted at Maurer Law, as well as a great library of our faculty’s publications, I particularly enjoy browsing the Historic Documents collection – you never know what you’re going to find! In honor of Constitution Day, I decided to see what documents, if any, we might have about the US Constitution. Lo and behold, in my favorite category I found The Constitution of the United States at the End of One Hundred Fifty Years. This was a publication of a former IU School of Law professor, Hugh Evander Willis.
As Professor Willis states in the introductory Explanatory Note, “[M]ost people know that the greater part of our United States Constitution is not found in the printed document generally distributed as our United States Constitution, but is found in the Supreme Court Reports and is the work of the United States Supreme Court” (5). The richness of this publication is evident from its introduction, which provides a brief history of constitutional development in the United States, how the Supreme Court has grown in its own role as “Constitution-Maker,” as well as a breakdown of individual significant contributions by Justice. The introduction emphasizes that constitutional law far exceeds the written words of the original document and its amendments, and to only familiarize oneself with the text of the document wouldn’t come close to familiarization with the subject as a whole; therefore, in addition to re-printing the text of the US Constitution, this work incorporates the Supreme Court’s contributions to constitutional law as well. For each article of the Constitution (some broken into sub-parts), the true text of the Constitution is seen in normal, Roman font, and the Supreme Court’s contributions are added in italics. These italicized additions are footnoted, with citations to the cases that added these contributions to our wealth of constitutional law.
Published in 1939, this work is clearly not a comprehensive resource for understanding developments in constitutional law today, but for historical constitutional research, this is quite a find. To grasp comprehensive developments in constitutional law today, we primarily rely on citators in Westlaw and Lexis to provide us with every case that has discussed a constitutional provision. If only we had a resource like this today!