Book Review: The North Carolina State Constitution, Second Edition

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John V. Orth & Paul Martin Newby, The North Carolina State Constitution, Second Edition (New York: Oxford University Press, 2013). 254 pages. ISBN: 9780199915149. $150.00 (Hardcover).

Since its initial publication in 1993, UNC Law Professor John V. Orth's The North Carolina State Constitution has served as a valuable resource for legal researchers interested in the constitutional development of the Tar Heel State.  Justice Paul Martin Newby of the Supreme Court of North Carolina joins Professor Orth as co-author of this second edition, part of The Oxford Commentaries on the State Constitutions of the United States series.  Drawing on their wealth of knowledge and experience, Professor Orth and Justice Newby create an informative and accessible account of the history, structure, and interpretation of the North Carolina Constitution.

Following the format of the first edition, the second consists of two parts: The History of the North Carolina Constitution and The North Carolina Constitution and Commentary.  The History of the North Carolina Constitution traces the evolution of the state's constitution over the past two centuries, beginning with the original 1776 document through the 1868 revisions necessitated by the Civil War and the current version adopted in 1971.  In addition to summarizing the key reforms instituted by each of the three constitutions, the authors offer an insightful explanation of the historical, political, and social factors that shaped the constitutional tradition of North Carolina.

The North Carolina Constitution and Commentary contains a section-by-section analysis of the complete state constitution, including nine amendments approved after the publication of the first edition.  Professor Orth and Justice Newby excel at explaining the language of the constitution in a manner understandable by both legal experts and novices.  Their detailed commentary also addresses the origins of each section, any changes made from prior constitutions, and judicial decisions that have interpreted the relevant provisions.  The references to court opinions can be particularly helpful to researchers, both as a means of understanding the North Carolina judiciary's views of the constitution and as as tool for finding additional cases that focus on similar issues.

Readers will find a bibliography at the end of the treatise that illustrates the depth of the authors' research and serves as a handy reference guide to the North Carolina Constitution.  A table of cases and topical index are also available to help locate desired information.

Effective research of the North Carolina Constitution requires an appreciation of the text of the document, its history, and its interpretation by the courts.  The North Carolina State Constitution, Second Edition provides a comprehensive, user-friendly examination of these topics.  This title will be a positive addition to any library's state constitutional law collection.

Timothy J. Gallina is Reference/Emerging Technologies Librarian and Clinical Assistant Professor of Law at the Kathrine R. Everett Law Library, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

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