A Companion to the United States Constitution and Its Amendments, 5th Edition

by John R. Vile


The United States Constitution is a living document, with an ability to change and adapt woven into its design from the outset. And adapt it has—from the original Bill of Rights and subsequent amendments to the court cases that bring its precepts forward. Now, the most accessible and informative guide to what the Constitution means today is available in a fully updated new edition.

Print Flyer

February 2010


Pages 311
Volumes 1
Size 6 1/8x9 1/4
Topics Politics, Law, and Government/Law

This new edition updates the classic clause-by-clause examination of the Constitution and its Amendments as interpreted by the Supreme Court from 1789 to 2009.

A Companion to the United States Constitution and Its Amendments is designed to show students just how revolutionary the Constitution was—and how relevant it remains today. The Companion begins by revisiting the key events leading to the Constitution’s ratification, including the writing of the Declaration of Independence and the proceedings of the Constitutional Convention, then goes article by article, amendment by amendment, to describe each section of the document, as well as the important court cases that add to its meaning.

The fully updated new edition of A Companion to the United States Constitution and Its Amendments reflects a number of significant developments in the five years since the previous edition, including the appointments of new Supreme Court justices, impactful cases involving First Amendment rights for students, religious displays on government property, gun control in the District of Columbia, presidential powers in the context of the war on terror, corporate fraud liability, gay rights, and the recent presidential election.


  • Includes copies of original documents such as the Declaration of Independence, the Articles of Confederation, and the U.S. Constitution
  • Provides a chronology of key events in constitutional history from the Magna Carta (1215) to the present
  • Each chapter has a bibliography of cases and/or primary and secondary materials, many of which are quite extensive
  • A glossary of key law and political science terms
  • Offers appendices, including a list of U.S. Supreme Court Justices and their dates of service and thumbnails of the 50 leading cases decided by the Supreme Court


  • Provides an accessible and informative introduction to the creation and continuing role of the Constitution
  • Adds discussions of relevant course cases in the coverage of each article and amendment
  • Updates coverage to include Supreme Court appointments and landmark cases since the previous edition
  • Serves students at the high school, college, or law school level
Author Info

John R. Vile is professor of political science and dean of the University Honors College at Middle Tennessee State University, Murfreesboro, TN. He is the author and coeditor of numerous books, including Encyclopedia of the First Amendment as well as ABC-CLIO’s Encyclopedia of Constitutional Amendments, Proposed Amendments, and Amending Issues, 1789-1995; The Constitutional Convention of 1787: A Comprehensive Encyclopedia of America’s Founding; Great American Lawyers: An Encyclopedia, Great American Judges: An Encyclopedia, and others.



"Well organized and reliable, it is the best introductory guide to the Constitution currently available. It can be used for senior and AP classes in high schools, as well as college level introductions to the Constitution or courses on US government. Summing Up: Highly recommended. General readers and lower-division undergraduate students."—Choice

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