US Legal System

It’s a little more than just being a bill sitting up here on Capitol Hill; this research guide by Kelly Kunsch is useful for new students or people with a burning interest in Constitutional law, as well as a comparative reference for the differences between state and Federal legal systems as well as Indian legal systems within their respective Nations.


Finding Study Aids

Need an overview of a particular area of law or to clarify a particular legal concept?  The law library purchases the following study aid series:

  • West Hornbooks
  • West Nutshells
  • Examples and Explanations
  • Gilbert Law Summaries
  • Emanuel Law Outlines

Current study aids are located in the Reserve collection.  Check the online catalog for specific titles  Study aids are available for 2-hour check out and selected “starred” copies can be checked out for 24 hours.  “Starred” books cannot be renewed.  Fines will accrue for late items at the rate of $1 per hour. If you would like to check out a study aid for 6 weeks, selected copies of older editions of these study aids are located in the Treatise collection for checkout.

The law library is pleased to provide students with this collection.  We hope that students will take care to maintain the collection for the benefit of everyone.  Remember, study aids are just that: aids to your regular study.  They are not a substitute for attending class and reading required material!


Newspaper Databases

You can find newspaper content on both Westlaw and Lexis, as well as through databases available from the Lemieux Library. If you’re doing research on Washington history, however, you may want to use the Seattle Times archive from the Seattle Public Library. This archives includes the complete Seattle Times from 1895 to the present.


Looking at the Law in all 50 States

This guide is a veritable bonanza for legal researchers in finding work that has already been done so you don’t reinvent the wheel.


Election Law at the SU Law Library

Clinton, Cruz, Trump, Sanders, Kasich… these names are probably familiar to you, and this November it’s more than likely one of these individuals will be President. Election law determines America’s future. This week, in Harris v. Arizona Independent Redistricting Commission the U.S. Supreme Court upheld a redistricting plan that the plaintiff’s argued was a result of partisan gerrymandering. And, earlier this month, the U.S. Supreme Court held line drawing can be done based on a state’s total population. Both opinions were unanimous. Does this sound confusing? Don’t fret, our law library has the resources to prepare you:

Election Law and Democratic Theory by David A. Schultz
Available at SU Law Library LAW-4th Floor (KF4886.S38 2014)
Publisher’s Description:

While numerous books and articles examine various aspects either of democratic theory or of specific topics in election law, there is no comprehensive book that provides a detailed and scholarly discussion of the political and democratic theory underpinnings of election law. Election Law and Democratic Theory fills this important gap, as author David Schultz offers a scholarly analysis of the political principles and democratic values underlying election law and the regulation of political campaigns and participants in the United States.

Bending Toward Justice : The Voting Rights Act and the Transformation of American Democracy by Gary May
Available at SU Law Library LAW-4th Floor (KF4893.M39 2013)
Publisher’s Description:

In Bending Toward Justice, celebrated historian Gary May describes how black voters overcame centuries of bigotry to secure and preserve one of their most important rights as American citizens. The struggle that culminated in the passage of the Voting Rights Act was long and torturous, and only succeeded because of the courageous work of local freedom fighters and national civil rights leaders—as well as, ironically, the opposition of Southern segregationists and law enforcement officials, who won public sympathy for the voting rights movement by brutally attacking peaceful demonstrators.

Retired Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens wrote a review of this work in The New York Review of Books titled “The Court & the Right to Vote: A Dissent”

America Votes! : A Guide to Modern Election Law and Voting Rights by Benjamin E. Griffith
Available at SU Law Library LAW-4th Floor (KF4886.A86 2012)
Publisher’s Description:

This book is a snapshot of America’s voting and electoral practices, problems, and most current issues. The book addresses a variety of fundamental areas concerning election law from a federal perspective such as the Help America Vote Act, lessons learned from the 2000 and 2004 presidential elections, voter identification, and demographic and statistical experts in election litigation, and more. It is a useful guide for lawyers as well as law school professors, election officials, state and local government personnel, and election workers.

Race, Reform, and Regulation of the Electoral Process: Recurring Puzzles in American Democracy by Guy-Uriel E. Charles, Heather K. Gerken, & Michael S. Kang
Available at SU Law Library LAW-3rd Floor (JK1965.R33 2011)
Publisher’s Description:

This book offers a critical re-evaluation of three fundamental and interlocking themes in American democracy: the relationship between race and politics, the performance and reform of election systems, and the role of courts in regulating the political process. This edited volume features contributions from some of the leading voices in election law and social science. The authors address the recurring questions for American democracy and identify new challenges for the twenty-first century. They not only consider where current policy and scholarship is headed, but also suggest where it ought to go over the next two decades. The book thus provides intellectual guideposts for future scholarship and policymaking in American democracy.


Exam Period Hours for Law Students Now Posted

Check out our Library Hours page for the availability of reading rooms and service desks during the exam period.


Supreme Court Nominations in the SU Law Library

Are you interested in learning about the President’s judicial nominations to the US Supreme Court? Look no further than the Seattle U law library. The first book is written by Seattle University’s own Professor Andrew Siegel!

The Supreme Court Sourcebook by Richard H. Seamon, Andrew Siegel, Joseph Thai, & Kathryn A. Watts
Available at SU Law Library LAW-Reserve (Faculty Collection) (KF8742.S425 2013). Publisher’s Description:

The Supreme Court Sourcebook provides carefully selected, edited, and analyzed materials on the Court, including academic literature, historical materials, internal court documents, Court filings, and judicial opinions. The flexible organization suits a variety of courses. An online component keeps the book current and interesting, with ready-to-use materials in pending cases for advocacy and opinion-writing simulations. The combined package gives professors a turnkey solution for teaching a theoretical course (examination of the Supreme Court as an institution), a hands-on course (simulations of oral argument and opinion writing in pending cases), or any custom combination in between.

Supreme Court Nominations: Presidential Nomination, the Judiciary Committee, Proper Scope of Questioning of Nominees, Senate Consideration, Cloture, and the use of the Filibuster by Denis Steven Rutkus
Available at SU Law Library LAW-4th Floor (KF8742.S87 2009). Publisher’s Description:

The process of appointing Justices has undergone changes over two centuries, but its most basic feature–the sharing of power between the President and Senate–has remained unchanged. To receive lifetime appointment to the Court, a candidate must first be nominated by the President and then confirmed by the Senate. Although not mentioned in the Constitution, an important role is played midway in the process (after the President selects, but before the Senate considers) by the Senate Judiciary Committee. Since the end of the Civil War, almost every Supreme Court nomination received by the Senate has first been referred to and considered by the Judiciary Committee before being acted on by the Senate as a whole. This book explores the appointment process–from Presidential announcement, Judiciary Committee investigation, confirmation hearings, vote, and report to the Senate, through Senate debate and vote on the nomination.

Strategic Selection: Presidential Nomination of Supreme Court Justices from Herbert Hoover through George W. Bush by Christine L. Nemacheck
Available at SU Law Library LAW-4th Floor (KF8742.N46 2007). Publisher’s Description:

The process by which presidents decide whom to nominate to fill Supreme Court vacancies is obviously of far-ranging importance, particularly because the vast majority of nominees are eventually confirmed. But why is one individual selected from among a pool of presumably qualified candidates? In Strategic Selection: Presidential Nomination of Supreme Court Justices from Herbert Hoover through George W. Bush, Christine Nemacheck makes heavy use of presidential papers to reconstruct the politics of nominee selection from Herbert Hoover’s appointment of Charles Evan Hughes in 1930 through President George W. Bush’s nomination of Samuel Alito in 2005. Bringing to light firsthand evidence of selection politics and of the influence of political actors, such as members of Congress and presidential advisors, from the initial stages of formulating a short list through the president’s final selection of a nominee, Nemacheck constructs a theoretical framework that allows her to assess the factors impacting a president’s selection process.


Preemption Check

This guide shows you how to do preemption checks on your potential law review articles, or major scholarly writings which you might be doing for an independent study. A preemption check is much more than just Shepardizing, and this guide tells you how to do it yourself and do it right the first time.


Today in Legal History: Beer & Wine Revenue Act Signed

The Beer & Wine Revenue Act was signed by Franklin Roosevelt on March 22, 1933.  No fan of prohibition, President Roosevelt signed the Act in order to levy a federal tax on alcoholic beverages to raise federal revenue to get our nation out of the Great Depression.  Later that year, in December 1933, the 21st Amendment ending Prohibition, was enacted.

More information is available at:


Today in Legal History: Salem Witch Trials

On February 29, 1692, the first arrests were made in the Salem Witch Trials. The Salem court of Oyer and Terminer (hear and determine) accepted evidence that no modern court would: spectral evidence and witch marks. Spectral evidence involved reports of what would sound like hallucinations to modern jurors. The witnesses would describe their visions of the accused cavorting in their spectral forms. Witch marks were evidence that animal familiars had been suckling on their master. These marks often looked like moles, bruises, and birthmarks.

There were other ways in which the Salem trials would not meet constitutional muster. The accused were not allowed an advocate or witnesses on their own behalf. Though they were allowed to present evidence, speak on their own behalf, and question their accusers, without counsel, the accused were ill prepared to defend themselves effectively. No appeals were available.

Although witchcraft was not actually a crime at the time of the first trial, criminalizing witchcraft was made retroactive. Accused awaiting trial had to pay their own prison expenses, including the shackles; if they could not, prisoners were kept in small rooms the size of coffins.

The first trial was delayed because one judge felt the witch marks and spectral evidence were inadequate proof. Nathaniel Saltenstall resigned the bench in protest.

Six months later, the hysteria ended after the main accusers denounced the new governor’s wife as a witch. The governor shut down the proceedings as a result. Those who had lost their property did not regain it. Nineteen had been hanged.

More information is available at: