Keeping Faith with the Constitution
Author: Goodwin Liu, Pamela S. Karlan, Christopher H. Schroeder
Publisher: Oxford University Press
Chief Justice John Marshall argued that a constitution "requires that only its great outlines should be marked [and] its important objects designated." Ours is "intended to endure for ages to come, and consequently, to be adapted to the various crises of human affairs." In recent years, Marshall's great truths have been challenged by proponents of originalism and strict construction. Such legal thinkers as Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia argue that the Constitution must be construed and applied as it was when the Framers wrote it. In Keeping Faith with the Constitution, three legal authorities make the case for Marshall's vision. They describe their approach as "constitutional fidelity"--not to how the Framers would have applied the Constitution, but to the text and principles of the Constitution itself. The original understanding of the text is one source of interpretation, but not the only one; to preserve the meaning and authority of the document, to keep it vital, applications of the Constitution must be shaped by precedent, historical experience, practical consequence, and societal change. The authors range across the history of constitutional interpretation to show how this approach has been the source of our greatest advances, from Brown v. Board of Education to the New Deal, from the Miranda decision to the expansion of women's rights. They delve into the complexities of voting rights, the malapportionment of legislative districts, speech freedoms, civil liberties and the War on Terror, and the evolution of checks and balances. The Constitution's framers could never have imagined DNA, global warming, or even women's equality. Yet these and many more realities shape our lives and outlook. Our Constitution will remain vital into our changing future, the authors write, if judges remain true to this rich tradition of adaptation and fidelity.
Pamela S. Karlan is a unique figure in American law. A professor at Stanford Law School and former counsel for the NAACP, she has argued seven cases at the Supreme Court and worked on dozens more as a clerk for Justice Harry Blackmun. In her first book written for a general audience, she examines what happens in American courtrooms -- especially the Supreme Court -- and what it means for our everyday lives and to our national commitments to democracy, justice, and fairness. Through an exploration of current hot-button legal issues -- from voting rights to the death penalty, health care, same-sex marriage, invasive high-tech searches, and gun control -- Karlan makes a sophisticated and resonant case for her vision of the Constitution. At the heart of that vision is the conviction that the Constitution is an evolving document that enables government to solve novel problems and expand the sphere of human freedom. As skeptics charge congressional overreach on such issues as the Affordable Care Act and even voting rights, Karlan pushes back. On individual rights in particular, she believes the Constitution allows Congress to enforce the substance of its amendments. And she calls out the Roberts Court for its disdain for the other branches of government and for its alignment with a conservative agenda.
Author: Jimmy Carter
Publisher: Simon and Schuster
NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER In this powerful reflection, President Jimmy Carter contemplates how faith has sustained him in happiness and disappointment. He considers how we may find it in our own lives. All his life, President Jimmy Carter has been a courageous exemplar of faith. Now he shares the lessons he learned. He writes, “The issue of faith arises in almost every area of human existence, so it is important to understand its multiple meanings. In this book, my primary goal is to explore the broader meaning of faith, its far-reaching effect on our lives, and its relationship to past, present, and future events in America and around the world. The religious aspects of faith are also covered, since this is how the word is most often used, and I have included a description of the ways my faith has guided and sustained me, as well as how it has challenged and driven me to seek a closer and better relationship with people and with God.” As President Carter examines faith’s many meanings, he describes how to accept it, live it, how to doubt and find faith again. A serious and moving reflection from one of America’s most admired and respected citizens.
Levinson argues that too many of our Constitution's provisions promote either unjust or ineffective government. Under the existing blueprint, we can neither rid ourselves of incompetent presidents nor assure continuity of government following catastrophic attacks. Less important, perhaps, but certainly problematic, is the appointment of Supreme Court judges for life. Adding insult to injury, the United States Constitution is the most difficult to amend or update of any constitution currently existing in the world today. Democratic debate leaves few stones unturned, but we tend to take our basic constitutional structures for granted. Levinson boldly challenges the American people to undertake a long overdue public discussion on how they might best reform this most hallowed document and construct a constitution adequate to our democratic values. "Admirably gutsy and unfashionable." --Michael Kinsley, The New York Times "Bold, bracingly unromantic, and filled with illuminating insights. He accomplishes an unlikely feat, which is to make a really serious argument for a new constitutional convention, one that is founded squarely on democratic ideals." --Cass R. Sunstein, The New Republic "Everyone who cares about how our government works should read this thoughtful book." --Washington Lawyer
In this highly readable study of Abraham Lincoln’s thoughts and actions concerning the U.S. Constitution, Brian R. Dirck combines extensive primary research and thoughtful, accessible consideration of Lincoln’s views to reveal new insights into Lincoln’s impact on the U.S. Constitution. In the statesman’s roles as a leading antebellum politician, an ardent critic of slavery, and the president of the United States during the Civil War, Lincoln fashioned a strong antislavery constitutional ideology and articulated a constitutional vision of the Civil War that reinforced his determination to restore the Union. Grounding Lincoln’s constitutionalism in his reading habits and early legal career, Dirck masterfully balances biographical details, Lincoln’s value system, the opinions of his supporters and critics, and key events and ideas to show how his thinking about the U.S. Constitution changed over time. From Lincoln’s deep reverence for the work of the Founding Fathers to his innovative interpretation of presidential war powers, Dirck reveals Lincoln’s understanding of the Constitution to be progressive, emphasizing federal power as a tool to develop the economy, and pragmatic, in that he was often forced to make decisions on the fly during a remarkably volatile period in American history. Lincoln used his conception of presidential war powers to advance the twin causes of Union and emancipation, and Dirck explores the constitutional problems stirred by curbs Lincoln placed on civil liberties, internal security, and freedom of expression during wartime. More than a straightforward overview of Lincoln’s constitutional views, Lincoln and the Constitution provides a starting point for further inquiry into interpretations and defenses as well as the political, intellectual, and cultural traditions of the founding document of the United States. In the end, Dirck shows, Lincoln viewed the political and legal traditions of the Constitution with optimism, emphasizing throughout his life the possibilities he believed the document held—always keeping faith in it and swearing to protect it, even as he was awash in a sea of blood and controversy. Univeristy Press Books for Public and Secondary Schools 2013 edition
Wrong and Dangerous
Author: Garrett Epps
Publisher: Rowman & Littlefield Publishers
The primary purpose of the United States Constitution is to limit Congress. There is no separation of church and state. The Second Amendment allows citizens to threaten the government. These are just a few of the myths about our constitution peddled by the Far Right—a toxic coalition of Fox News talking heads, radio hosts, angry “patriot” groups, and power-hungry Tea Party politicians. Well-funded, loud, and unscrupulous, they are trying to do to America’s founding document what they have done to global warming and evolution—wipe out the facts and substitute partisan myth. In the process, they seek to cripple the right of We the People to govern ourselves. In Wrong and Dangerous, legal scholar Garrett Epps provides the tools needed to fight back against the flood of constitutional nonsense. In terms every citizen can understand, he tackles ten of the most prevalent myths, providing a clear grasp of the Constitution and the government it established.
Author: Jimmy Carter
The Agnostic Age
Author: Paul Horwitz
Publisher: Oxford University Press
The Agnostic Age: Law, Religion, and the Constitution is a book for lawyers, law professors, law students, lawmakers, and any citizen who cares about church-state conflict and about the relationship between religion and liberal democracy. It provides a way to understand and balance the conflicts that inevitably arise when neighbors struggle with neighbors, and when liberal democracy tries to reach common ground with religious beliefs and practices. Paul Horwitz argues that the fundamental reason for the church-state conflict is our aversion to questions of religious truth. By trying to avoid the question of religious truth, law and religion has ultimately only reached a state of incoherence. He asserts that the answer to this dilemma is to take "the agnostic turn": to take an empathetic and imaginative approach to questions of religious truth, one that actually confronts rather than avoids these questions, but without reaching a final judgment about what that truth is. This book offers a sensitive and sensible approach to questions of church-state conflict, justifying what the courts have done in some cases and demanding new results in others. It explains how the church-state conflict extends beyond law and religion itself, and goes to some of the central questions at the heart of the troubled relationship between religion and liberal democracy in a post-9/11 era.
Author: Akhil Reed Amar
Publisher: Random House
In America’s Constitution, one of this era’s most accomplished constitutional law scholars, Akhil Reed Amar, gives the first comprehensive account of one of the world’s great political texts. Incisive, entertaining, and occasionally controversial, this “biography” of America’s framing document explains not only what the Constitution says but also why the Constitution says it. We all know this much: the Constitution is neither immutable nor perfect. Amar shows us how the story of this one relatively compact document reflects the story of America more generally. (For example, much of the Constitution, including the glorious-sounding “We the People,” was lifted from existing American legal texts, including early state constitutions.) In short, the Constitution was as much a product of its environment as it was a product of its individual creators’ inspired genius. Despite the Constitution’s flaws, its role in guiding our republic has been nothing short of amazing. Skillfully placing the document in the context of late-eighteenth-century American politics, America’s Constitution explains, for instance, whether there is anything in the Constitution that is unamendable; the reason America adopted an electoral college; why a president must be at least thirty-five years old; and why–for now, at least–only those citizens who were born under the American flag can become president. From his unique perspective, Amar also gives us unconventional wisdom about the Constitution and its significance throughout the nation’s history. For one thing, we see that the Constitution has been far more democratic than is conventionally understood. Even though the document was drafted by white landholders, a remarkably large number of citizens (by the standards of 1787) were allowed to vote up or down on it, and the document’s later amendments eventually extended the vote to virtually all Americans. We also learn that the Founders’ Constitution was far more slavocratic than many would acknowledge: the “three fifths” clause gave the South extra political clout for every slave it owned or acquired. As a result, slaveholding Virginians held the presidency all but four of the Republic’s first thirty-six years, and proslavery forces eventually came to dominate much of the federal government prior to Lincoln’s election. Ambitious, even-handed, eminently accessible, and often surprising, America’s Constitution is an indispensable work, bound to become a standard reference for any student of history and all citizens of the United States.
Out of Range
Author: Mark V. Tushnet
Publisher: Oxford University Press
Few constitutional disputes maintain as powerful a grip on the public mind as the battle over the Second Amendment. The National Rifle Association and gun-control groups struggle unceasingly over a piece of the political landscape that no candidate for the presidency--and few for Congress--can afford to ignore. But who's right? Will it ever be possible to settle the argument? In Out of Range, one of the nation's leading legal scholars takes a calm, objective look at this bitter debate. Mark V. Tushnet brings to this book a deep expertise in the Constitution, the Supreme Court, and the role of the law in American life. He breaks down the different positions on the Second Amendment, showing that it is a mistake to stereotype them. Tushnet's exploration is honest and nuanced; he finds the constitutional arguments finely balanced, which is one reason the debate has raged for so long. Along the way, he examines various experiments in public policy, from both sides, and finds little clear evidence for the practical effectiveness of any approach to gun safety and prosecution. Of course, he notes, most advocates of the right to keep and bear arms agree that it should be subject to reasonable regulation. Ultimately, Tushnet argues, our view of the Second Amendment reflects our sense of ourselves as a people. The answer to the debate will not be found in any holy writ, but in our values and our vision of the nation. This compact, incisive examination offers an honest and thoughtful guide to both sides of the argument, pointing the way to solutions that could calm, if not settle, this bitter dispute.
What were the intentions of the Founders? Was the American constitution designed to protect individual rights? To limit the powers of government? To curb the excesses of democracy? Or to create a robust democratic nation-state? These questions echo through today's most heated legal and political debates. In this powerful new interpretation of America's origins, Max Edling argues that the Federalists were primarily concerned with building a government that could act vigorously in defense of American interests. The Constitution transferred the powers of war making and resource extraction from the states to the national government thereby creating a nation-state invested with all the important powers of Europe's eighteenth-century "fiscal-military states." A strong centralized government, however, challenged the American people's deeply ingrained distrust of unduly concentrated authority. To secure the Constitution's adoption the Federalists had to accommodate the formation of a powerful national government to the strong current of anti-statism in the American political tradition. They did so by designing a government that would be powerful in times of crisis, but which would make only limited demands on the citizenry and have a sharply restricted presence in society. The Constitution promised the American people the benefit of government without its costs. Taking advantage of a newly published letterpress edition of the constitutional debates, A Revolution in Favor of Government recovers a neglected strand of the Federalist argument, making a persuasive case for rethinking the formation of the federal American state.
The Living Constitution
Author: David A. Strauss
Publisher: Oxford University Press
Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia once remarked that the theory of an evolving, "living" Constitution effectively "rendered the Constitution useless." He wanted a "dead Constitution," he joked, arguing it must be interpreted as the framers originally understood it. In The Living Constitution, leading constitutional scholar David Strauss forcefully argues against the claims of Scalia, Clarence Thomas, Robert Bork, and other "originalists," explaining in clear, jargon-free English how the Constitution can sensibly evolve, without falling into the anything-goes flexibility caricatured by opponents. The living Constitution is not an out-of-touch liberal theory, Strauss further shows, but a mainstream tradition of American jurisprudence--a common-law approach to the Constitution, rooted in the written document but also based on precedent. Each generation has contributed precedents that guide and confine judicial rulings, yet allow us to meet the demands of today, not force us to follow the commands of the long-dead Founders. Strauss explores how judicial decisions adapted the Constitution's text (and contradicted original intent) to produce some of our most profound accomplishments: the end of racial segregation, the expansion of women's rights, and the freedom of speech. By contrast, originalism suffers from fatal flaws: the impossibility of truly divining original intent, the difficulty of adapting eighteenth-century understandings to the modern world, and the pointlessness of chaining ourselves to decisions made centuries ago. David Strauss is one of our leading authorities on Constitutional law--one with practical knowledge as well, having served as Assistant Solicitor General of the United States and argued eighteen cases before the United States Supreme Court. Now he offers a profound new understanding of how the Constitution can remain vital to life in the twenty-first century.
Author: Ed Henry
Publisher: Thomas Nelson
Jackie Robinson, Branch Rickey, and the hidden hand of God that changed history Journalist and baseball lover Ed Henry reveals for the first time the backstory of faith that guided Jackie Robinson into not only the baseball record books but the annals of civil rights advancement as well. Through recently discovered sermons, interviews with Robinson’s family and friends, and even an unpublished book by the player himself, Henry details a side of Jackie’s humanity that few have taken the time to see. Branch Rickey, the famed owner who risked it all by signing Jackie to his first contract, is also shown as a complex individual who wanted nothing more than to make his God-fearing mother proud of him. Few know the level at which Rickey struggled with his decision, only moving forward after a private meeting with a minister he’d just met. It turns out Rickey was not as certain about signing Robinson as historians have always assumed. With many baseball stories to enthrall even the most ardent enthusiast, 42 Faith also digs deep into why Jackie was the man he was and what both drove him and challenged him after his retirement. From his early years before baseball, to his time with Rickey and the Dodgers, to his failing health in his final years, we see a man of faith that few have recognized. This book will add a whole new dimension to Robinson’s already awe-inspiring legacy. Yes, Jackie and Branch are both still heroes long after their deaths. Now, we learn more fully than ever before, there was an assist from God too.
Author: Gina Loudon
Publisher: Simon and Schuster
If the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result, America has been insane for decades. We've elected establishment politicians on both sides of the aisle; we've hoped for change; and we've been disappointed. But with the election of Donald Trump, America tried something new. So we have to ask ourselves: what if Trump isn't the crazy man that the media pretends he is? What if he's actually the cure for a country who's been going mad for years? In Mad Politics, Fox News commentator, radio host, and psychological analyst Dr. Gina Loudon diagnoses the problem with America's status quo politics. Loudon has unique insight into both the Trump campaign and the larger political landscape as a member of the president's 2020 media advisory board, a former surrogate for his campaign, the wife of a former Senator from Missouri, the co-host of a national Television show, a seasoned psychological analyst on FOX News, CNN and others, and a twice pedigreed Master and Ph.D. With authority and wit, Mad Politics exposes cultural patterns that have led to today's political narcissism. She scans the psychological literature and illuminates a formula to answer the question: How can we restore a sound mind to the body politic? The answer, Loudon concludes, may be in joining Trump in a complete rejection of political correctness.
Making, amending, and interpreting constitutions is a political game that can yield widespread suffering or secure a nation's liberty and prosperity. Given these high stakes, Robert Cooter argues that constitutional theory should trouble itself less with literary analysis and arguments over founders' intentions and focus much more on the real-world consequences of various constitutional provisions and choices. Pooling the best available theories from economics and political science, particularly those developed from game theory, Cooter's economic analysis of constitutions fundamentally recasts a field of growing interest and dramatic international importance. By uncovering the constitutional incentives that influence citizens, politicians, administrators, and judges, Cooter exposes fault lines in alternative forms of democracy: unitary versus federal states, deep administration versus many elections, parliamentary versus presidential systems, unicameral versus bicameral legislatures, common versus civil law, and liberty versus equality rights. Cooter applies an efficiency test to these alternatives, asking how far they satisfy the preferences of citizens for laws and public goods. To answer Cooter contrasts two types of democracy, which he defines as competitive government. The center of the political spectrum defeats the extremes in "median democracy," whereas representatives of all the citizens bargain over laws and public goods in "bargain democracy." Bargaining can realize all the gains from political trades, or bargaining can collapse into an unstable contest of redistribution. States plagued by instability and contests over redistribution should move towards median democracy by increasing transaction costs and reducing the power of the extremes. Specifically, promoting median versus bargain democracy involves promoting winner-take-all elections versus proportional representation, two parties versus multiple parties, referenda versus representative democracy, and special governments versus comprehensive governments. This innovative theory will have ramifications felt across national and disciplinary borders, and will be debated by a large audience, including the growing pool of economists interested in how law and politics shape economic policy, political scientists using game theory or specializing in constitutional law, and academic lawyers. The approach will also garner attention from students of political science, law, and economics, as well as policy makers working in and with new democracies where constitutions are being written and refined.