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Information Resources and Services for:
POL 395: Constitutional Law: Civil Rights & Liberties

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Finding Information

This course page was specifically designed with your research in mind. Use it to navigate the various resources the library has for your topic, as well as explore other research tools such as citation managers and Interlibrary Loan.

Table of Contents:

Finding Opinions
  • LexisNexis Academic - Legal

    Click on the "Legal" tab to search law reviews,federal and state cases, Shepard's Citations, federal and state codes, tax law, and other legal topics. Tip: Finding case law: Click "Federal & State Cases," then search by topic, case name, or citation number. Tip: Using Shepard�s: Enter the citation for a decision and get references to (though not the full text of) cases related to that decision. This source will often give you more information than you are likely to need or want, and is most useful for otherwise obscure cases. Tip: Law reviews offer in-depth analysis of legal issues. Articles often run to 50 pages with copious footnotes. While these can be invaluable, the search engine sometimes retrieves things that are not very relevant. You may need to refine your search using multiple search terms or using the ATLEAST search connector (limiting your search to articles that refer to your keywords at least three times, not just in passing). Example: atleast3(flag burning). You may also want to click "Show options to search specific document sections" to limit your search to certain parts of the article.
  • United States. Supreme Court. United States Reports.

    The text of Supreme Court decisions are published in this series in chronological order. As decisions are made, they are published in pamphlet form, called "slip decisions" before being cumulated into volumes. If you know the citation of a case - e.g. 521 U. S. 844 - you can find it in volume 521, beginning on page 844, or you can browse the online case finder. In addition to the official online site of the Court, Findlaw has a useful database of decisions from 1895 to present, searchable by citation, party name, or full text. Registration is required, though it is free. Lower federal court decisions and state court decisions are also available through the Web.
    • Location(s): Ref KF 101 .A3
Oral Arguments
  • Oyez: Supreme Court Multimedia

    Offers information about the U.S. Supreme Court, most notably audio files of all oral arguments held before the Supreme Court since 1995, with selected landmark cases as far back as 1955. Oral arguments offer a fascinating glimpse into the background of decisions. This site also offers current Supreme Court news and a link to On the Docket, a news feed on Supreme Court matters from the Medill School of Journalism at Northwestern University.
Finding Books
  • MnPALS Plus

    The online catalog to the library at Gustavus Adolphus College. Choose "All Libraries" in the search options to search other MnPALS libraries (such as Minnesota State schools) and request books through Interlibrary Loan. View our MnPALS Plus tutorial.
  • MnLink

    A shared catalog of Minnesota libraries, including the University of Minnesota. To search a large number of libraries at once, choose "Libraries - Academic" from the "Current Profile" list. Use the "Get it!" button to place Interlibrary Loan requests.
  • WorldCat

    Includes over 40 million bibliographic records representing cataloged resources in 400 languages owned by libraries around the world. Materials date back to the 11th century. Owning libraries can be identified for books, journals, archival resources and electronic resources. Access to WorldCat is provided by the Electronic Library for Minnesota (ELM); the database can also be searched through its free web interface, at
Reference Books
Reference books are an excellent place to begin your research. They provide overviews of topics, help you narrow your research focus, and give you ideas for search terms. Reference books are shelved on the west side of the library's main floor.
  • Black's Law Dictionary
    A standard tool for defining legal terms. A Dictionary of Law (Oxford UP, 2002) includes UK and European legal terms but is less thorough than Black's in coverage of US legal concepts. A free version of Merriam Webster's Dictionary of Law (1996) is available through Findlaw.
    • Location(s): Ref KF 156 .B53 2009
  • Constitution of the United States of America: Analysis and Interpretation

    Provides the text of the constitution with extensive annotations that refer to cases decided by the Supreme Court to 1992, with supplements for later years in Government Documents. Online versions are available at Findlaw (includes supplements to 2000, and includes links to decisions cited) and at GPO Access (includes supplements to 2008). Tip: use the Table of Cases or Index to target your search.
    • Location(s): Ref KF 4527 C6 1996 (supplements for later years in Government Documents)
  • Encyclopedia of the American Constitution
    Offers accessible, brief articles on cases, issues, concepts, people, and acts. A very useful source. Note, however, that some of the information may be superceded by more recent court decisions.
    • Location(s): Ref KF 4548 .E53 2000
  • Guide to the U.S. Supreme Court
    Provides entries related to the history, decisions, and impact of the Supreme Court. Entries are divided in the broad topics of origins and development of the Court, the Court and the federal system, the Court and the individual, pressures on the Court, the Court at work, and members of the court. Includes a bibliography.
    • Location(s): Ref KF 8742 .W567 2004 (v.1, v.2)
  • Historic U.S. Court Cases 1690-1990: An Encyclopedia
    A collection of short essays that highlight major cases that made an impact on American law or which are connected to important historical events. Included are sections on civil liberties, minorities, women, political processes, economics, etc. There is an index of cases at the back.
    • Location(s): Ref KF 385 .A4 J64 1992
  • Oxford Companion to American Law

    This resource contains nearly 500 entries on American law. Topics covered include the role of law in structuring decisions about governance, the significance of state and local law and legal institutions, and the place of American law in a comparative international perspective.
  • Oxford Companion to the Supreme Court of the United States

    Contains over 1,200 entries related to key cases and various topics in constitutional law, such as abortion, freedom of religion, school desegregation, freedom of speech, voting rights, military tribunals, and the rights of the accused. The print version includes appendices: text of the Constitution, nominations and succession of justices, and trivia and traditions of the Court. Available in print and online.
    • Location(s): Ref KF 8742 .A35 O93 2005
  • Oxford Guide to United States Supreme Court Decisions

    Covers major Supreme Court cases and provides on the U.S. Constitution, and the nominations and successions of justices. Terms covered in the Companion are briefly defined and explained, and a complete case list is given.
  • Supreme Court A to Z
    Features 360 alphabetical entries related to past and present justices, landmark cases, and constitutional principles and legal concepts.
    • Location(s): Ref KF 8742 .A35 S8 2007
  • Gale Encyclopedia of American Law
    [Formerly West's Encyclopedia of American Law] Offers over 4,000 entries devoted to terms, concepts, cases, legal issues, and people of note in the American legal system.
    • Location(s): Ref KF 154 .W47 2011
Finding Articles
If you have an article citation and can't find the full text in a database, use the Journal Locator to see if Gustavus owns a print copy of the article OR if it is available through another database. Be sure to search the Journal Locator with the title of the journal, not the article title.
  • Academic Search Premier,uid&profile=ehost&defaultdb=aph

    The world's largest academic multi-disciplinary database, Academic Search Premier indexes nearly 8,050 publications and provides full text for nearly 4,600, including more than 3,500 peer-reviewed journals. Coverage also includes many newspapers and popular magazines and spans virtually every area of academic study since 1975. Updated daily. Access is provided by the Electronic Library for Minnesota (ELM). View our Academic Search Premier tutorial.

    Full-text backfiles to over 350 scholarly journals from more than 25 academic disciplines published between the 19th and 21st centuries in the JSTOR Arts & Sciences I, Arts & Sciences II, and Language & Literature collections. JSTOR provides complete journal backruns from the date of initial publication up to a "moving wall" of 3 to 5 years before the present year. To limit your search to full text articles, make sure that the option to "include links to external content" is turned off.
  • LexisNexis Academic

    Search current news, business information (including business news and corporate financials), and legal news and information. International news sources are also included.
  • ProQuest Newsstand

    Indexing and selected full text access to over 350 newspapers from around the world. Archival coverage begins in 1985 for some titles. Access is provided by the Electronic Library for Minnesota (ELM).
  • SAGE Premier

    Search the full text to over 500 scholarly journals published by SAGE in a range of disciplines, including many social sciences titles. Many journals include full backfiles - back to 1960s or earlier. To search articles by discipline, click on the "Browse" tab, then click on the "Articles by Discipline" tab.
  • Social Sciences Citation Index (Web of Knowledge)

    A multidisciplinary index with searchable author abstracts covering the journal literature of the social sciences, including anthropology, history, law, linguistics, philosophy, psychology, psychiatry, political science, public health, social work, sociology, urban studies, and women's studies. SSCI indexes more than 1,725 journals spanning 50 disciplines. In addition, it is possible to retrieve a list of works that have cited a specific author or specific work. May be searched simultaneously with Arts & Humanities Citation Index and/or Science Citation Index Expanded through the Web of Science interface.
Web Sites
  • Findlaw

    A commercial directory to law resources. Includes a handy law dictionary and a well-designed full text database of US Supreme Court decisions from 1893 to the present. Site requires free registration.
  • First Amendment Center

    At Vanderbilt University, a site covering freedoms of speech, the press, religious liberty, and assembly and newer issues such as cyberlaw.
  • Google

    Try using Google's advanced search option and limit by the domain .gov to search only U.S. government sites.
  • Landmark Supreme Court Cases

    From the Supreme Court Historical Society and Street Law, a collection of accessible materials intended for educational purposes. Includes coverage of key cases and how they moved through the courts as well as concepts.
  • Legal Information Institute, Cornell University

    A directory to legal information on the web, including texts of case law and statutes for state, federal and international jurisdictions. The site - organized alphabetically by topic - also provides links to court opinions and directories to law organizations and journals. From the Cornell University Law School.
  • State Websites
    State websites include links to statutes and sometimes state case law. They can be found using the following formula: where xx is the state's two-letter abbreviation.
  • Web Guide to Supreme Court Research

    Compiled by Gail Partin in December 2003, this is an excellent resource for finding court cases, news, history of the court, and more on the Web.
Citing Your Sources
We've got several additional resources through the library that you might find useful for your research. Check out these webpages for more information.
  • Bluebook: A Uniform System of Citation
    The standard guide to legal citations.
    • Location(s): Ref KF 245 .B58 1996
  • Documenting Your Sources

    Check out this guide to learn about citing sources in MLA, APA, and Chicago Style.
  • Introduction to Basic Legal Citation

    Provided by Cornell Law School's Legal Information Institute, this guide incorporates both Bluebook and ALWD (Association of Legal Writing Directors) rules.
  • Manual for Writers of Research Papers, Theses, and Dissertations: Chicago Style for Students and Researchers
    Commonly known as "Turabian," this manual is intended to guide writers as they research, write, and submit their work in Chicago style. The University of Chicago Press provides an online Turabian Quick Guide. Tip: When using this guide for legal citations, see section 17.9.7 (bibliography-style citation of legal cases) and section 22.1.3 (in-text references to legal cases). For further details, see The Chicago Manual of Style, 15th. ed. (Ready Ref Z253 .U69 2003), section 17.275-17.289 (documentation for legal citations).
    • Location(s): Ready Ref LB 2369 .T8 2007

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