March 29, 2010
State Constitutional Law Reference Guides
Ann Lousin (John Marshall, Chicago) recently published The Illinois State Constitution: A Reference Guide, the Illinois contribution to Greenwood/Praeger's series on reference guides to state constitutions.
Lousin's book, like others in the series, is an oustanding treatise on state constitutional law, covering history, doctrine, and current issues. Lousin, like other authors in the series, has a long and rich history with her state constitution. (Lousin's experience stretches back to 1969, when served as a research assistant for most of the Sixth Illinois Constitutional Convention. She has been a fixture in Illinois politics and constitutionalism since then, and she is widely regarded as the state's leading expert on the Illinois Constitution.)
The reference guides are obviously excellent sources for any state constitutional law course. Perhaps less obviously, they provide outstanding fodder for federal constitutional law courses--as the basis for a comparative constitutional law approach, or complementary constitutional law approach. They also make for fascinating reading in and of themselves, on issues ranging from interpretation and construction to constitution-making. As Lousin writes in her Preface:
One of the themes of this book, especially the chapter tracing the history of the Illinois constitutions, is the difficulty in creating a state constitution for a society as diverse as Illinois. . . . Another theme of this book is the struggle of people with sincerely held views and differing backgrounds who had to compromise in order to create a charter for Illinois.
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