Intro. What Is Included and Sourced in the Constitution Annotated: Influential Lower Court Rulings

From time to time, lower court rulings on constitutional law are widely recognized by constitutional scholars to have had a lasting influence on interpretations of the Constitution, perhaps even coming to be adopted or relied upon by the Supreme Court. Examples of influential lower court rulings include Judge Learned Hand's opinion on the First Amendment and incitement in Masses Publishing Co. v. Patten,1 and Judge Frank Easterbrook's opinion on the First Amendment and prohibitions on certain sexually explicit material in American Booksellers Ass'n, Inc. v. Hudnut.2 Such influential lower court rulings, which include opinions by future or retired Supreme Court Justices,3 are included in the Constitution Annotated.


  1.  Jump to essay-1See 244 F. 535 (S.D.N.Y. 1917), rev'd, 246 F. 24 (2d Cir. 1917).
  2.  Jump to essay-2See 771 F.2d 323 (7th Cir. 1985), aff'd sub nom., 475 U.S. 1001 (1986).
  3.  Jump to essay-3See, e.g., McAuliffe v. City of New Bedford, 29 N.E. 517 (1892) (Holmes, J.) (discussing the constitutional rights of public employees); Hayburn's Case, 2 U.S. (Dall.) 409, 410 n.2 (1792) (discussing the circuit court rulings issued by Members of the Supreme Court).