Brannon P. Denning, Starnes professor of law at Samford University’s Cumberland School of Law, completed the Seventh Edition of American Constitutional Law: Powers and Liberties which was published by Aspen Publishing in spring 2023.
The Seventh Edition is updated through the United States Supreme Court’s 2021-22 term and addresses the basics of constitutional law without getting too detailed in highly theoretical discussions. The cases are edited to focus on their most important aspects, with additional cases condensed into narrative summaries and included in notes following the major cases. The book focuses on cases and expository text rather than extensive academic commentary, and challenging hypotheticals are included for students to use as self-assessments or to launch stimulating class discussions.
Having served as a co-author of the book starting with the Sixth Edition with original author Calvin Massey, Denning took the project over completely following Massey’s death. Denning explained that when he took over authorship of the publication, he wanted to keep Massey’s vision for it intact as much as possible. He said, “Each edition remains ideologically neutral so one doesn’t have to teach against it.”
Massey, who taught at the University of California-Hastings, then the University of New Hampshire School of Law, wrote in the preface to the Second Edition of the casebook that “[t]he Second Edition of this casebook is intended to be concise, but achieving that goal gets harder as the reach of constitutional law grows ever larger.” Denning said, “Calvin wrote that in 2005 and nearly 20 years later, I remain having to struggle to maintain Calvin’s vision for concision against longer opinions that build on other lengthy ones. Deciding what to cut—and some older material has to go—gets more difficult each year.”
The casebook is published on a three- to four-year revision cycle and includes a digital component for each edition. In between editions, Denning writes an annual paperback supplement that includes important cases from that year’s Supreme Court Term.
Denning said, “This work is rewarding in numerous ways, especially when I get positive feedback from law students and other professors who use the book for their classes. It’s important for our faculty to do this type of work—first, it helps our students achieve mastery of core subjects; but, also, not only do we get noticed individually, it helps build the reputation of the institution we represent, and I hope my assuming the authorship of this book does that for Samford and Cumberland School of Law.”
Learn more about or purchase American Constitutional Law, the Seventh Edition, here.