“The solution for the modern GOP . . . This book provides plenty of intellectual ammunition for the modern conservative movement.” —SENATOR RAND PAUL
How can America recover from economic stagnation, moral exhaustion, and looming bankruptcy? Donald J. Devine shows the way.
Devine, a longtime adviser to Ronald Reagan, lays out a powerful case for the philosophical synthesis of freedom and tradition that Reagan said was the essence of modern conservatism. The secret of America’s success, he shows, has been the Constitution’s capacity to harmonize the twin ideals of freedom and tradition. But today, progressivism has so corrupted modern political thinking—in both parties—that leaders keep calling for the same failed tactics: more money poured into more big-government programs.
In America’s Way Back, Devine not only reveals where things went wrong, and why, but also points the way to reclaiming America’s freedom, prosperity, and creativity. The solution lies in a new “fusion” of traditional and libertarian thought.
Devine debunks the common view that marrying the two is nothing more than political calculation. He shows that without a deep philosophical commitment to harmonizing freedom and tradition, neither of these ideals can long survive.
In making the case for twenty-first-century fusionism, America’s Way Back updates the insights of Frank Meyer, the theorist Reagan specifically credited with “fashioning a vigorous synthesis of traditional and libertarian thought.“ Devine shows that, just as the fusionism of Meyer and William F. Buckley Jr. led to the conservative revival in the 1960s, a new harmony between freedom and tradition will revive America today.
“Prepare for enlightenment. . . . The [story] that Mr. Devine narrates aptly, informatively, is engaging as a summons to look around, look back, ask the vital question: Are conservatives doing the very, very best they can?” —Washington Times
“Intellectual yet highly readable . . . Devine has plenty of such instructive analysis and anecdotes to bolster his points. . . . You will learn about concepts your university should have introduced to you, only now via Devine’s graceful writing, incisive analysis, instructive anecdotes, and a plan to restore America’s greatness.” —Human Events
“The timing is right for [Devine’s] new book America’s Way Back. It lays out the course for a conservative intellectual renewal, to renew the nation by renewing her best traditions. . . . Reagan had a heckuva lieutenant in Don Devine. It is good to see him now mentoring the next generation of conservative leaders.” —L. Brent Bozell III, syndicated columnist, president of the Media Research Center
“A tour-de-force critique . . . We need to listen to people like Devine who are calling us back to a simpler, less complicated system of governance that allows decisions to be made at the local and state levels. If we don’t listen, if we just doggedly insist that the solution is to re-order, reform and re-imagine our failed programs, then we’ll end up going the way of the Titanic.” —Floyd Brown, Capitol Hill Daily
“A brilliant analysis of the major factors that have contributed to our nation’s decline. A very timely effort on perhaps the most critical issue of our time.” —George W. Carey, professor of government, Georgetown University
“A marvelous book. Read America’s Way Back if you fear ignorance and celebrate righteous, moral, intellectual knowledge.” —Craig Shirley, author of Rendezvous with Destiny: Ronald Reagan and the Campaign That Changed America
Here in a beautifully bound cloth gift edition are the two founding documents of the United States of America: the Declaration of Independence (1776), our great revolutionary manifesto, and the Constitution (1787-88), in which "We the People" forged a new nation and built the framework for our federal republic. Together with the Bill of Rights and the Civil War amendments, these documents constitute what James Madison called our "political scriptures," and have come to define us as a people. Now a Pulitzer Prize-winning historian serves as a guide to these texts, providing historical contexts and offering interpretive commentary.
This fascinating history underscores the importance of “little people” in affecting the U.S. government. It stresses the courage of a black man, Rosco Jones, and a white woman, Grace Marsh, who dared to challenge the status quo in Alabama in the early 1940s. These two Jehovah’s Witnesses helped to lay a foundation for testing the constitutionality of state and local laws, establishing precedents that the Civil Rights movement, the feminist movement, and similar forces could follow. Newton has prepared a finely woven tale of oral, legal, and social history that opens a window on the world of the Jehovah’s Witnesses in Alabama.
But the book is more than a legal study; it is also a dramatic history of two powerful personalities whose total commitment to their faith enabled them to carry the Jehovah’s Witnesses’ battle from rural Alabama to the halls of the U.S. Supreme Court.
Biocapital is a major theoretical contribution to science studies and political economy. Grounding his analysis in a multi-sited ethnography of genomic research and drug development marketplaces in the United States and India, Kaushik Sunder Rajan argues that contemporary biotechnologies such as genomics can only be understood in relation to the economic markets within which they emerge. Sunder Rajan conducted fieldwork in biotechnology labs and in small start-up companies in the United States (mostly in the San Francisco Bay area) and India (mainly in New Delhi, Hyderabad, and Bombay) over a five-year period spanning 1999 to 2004. He draws on his research with scientists, entrepreneurs, venture capitalists, and policymakers to compare drug development in the two countries, examining the practices and goals of research, the financing mechanisms, the relevant government regulations, and the hype and marketing surrounding promising new technologies. In the process, he illuminates the global flow of ideas, information, capital, and people connected to biotech initiatives.
Sunder Rajan’s ethnography informs his theoretically sophisticated inquiry into how the contemporary world is shaped by the marriage of biotechnology and market forces, by what he calls technoscientific capitalism. Bringing Marxian theories of value into conversation with Foucaultian notions of biopolitics, he traces how the life sciences came to be significant producers of both economic and epistemic value in the late twentieth century and early twenty-first.
H. Jefferson Powell offers a powerful new approach to one of the central issues in American constitutional thinking today: the problem of constitutional law's historicity, or the many ways in which constitutional arguments and outcomes are shaped both by historical circumstances and by the political goals and commitments of various actors, including judges. The presence of such influences is often considered highly problematic: if constitutional law is political and historical through and through, then what differentiates it from politics per se, and what gives it integrity and coherence? Powell argues that constitutional theory has as its (sometimes hidden) agenda the ambition of showing how constitutional law can escape from history and politics, while much constitutional history seeks to identify an historically true meaning of the constitutional text that, once uncovered, can serve as a corrective to subsequent deviations from that truth.
Combining history and theory, Powell analyzes a series of constitutional controversies from 1790 to 1944 to demonstrate that constitutional law from its very beginning has involved politically charged and ideologically divisive arguments. Nowhere in our past can one find the golden age of apolitical constitutional thinking that a great deal of contemporary scholarship seeks or presupposes. Viewed over time, American constitutional law is a history of political dispute couched in constitutional terms.
Powell then takes his conclusions one step further, claiming that it is precisely this historical tradition of argument that has given American constitutional law a remarkable coherence and integrity over time. No matter what the particular political disputes of the day might be, constitutional argument has provided a shared language through which our political community has been able to fight out its battles without ultimately fracturing.
A Community Built on Words will be must reading for any student of constitutional history, theory, or law.
In these three lectures, Cavell situates Emerson at an intersection of three crossroads: a place where both philosophy and literature pass; where the two traditions of English and German philosophy shun one another; where the cultures of America and Europe unsettle one another.
"Cavell's 'readings' of Wittgenstein and Heidegger and Emerson and other thinkers surely deepen our understanding of them, but they do much more: they offer a vision of what life can be and what culture can mean. . . . These profound lectures are a wonderful place to make [Cavell's] acquaintance."—Hilary Putnam
Congress and the Constitution
Neal Devins and Keith E. Whittington, eds. Duke University Press, 2005 Library of Congress KF4550.C568 2005 | Dewey Decimal 342.7302
For more than a decade, the U.S. Supreme Court has turned a skeptical eye toward Congress. Distrustful of Congress’s capacity to respect constitutional boundaries, the Court has recently overturned federal legislation at a historically unprecedented rate. This intensified judicial scrutiny highlights the need for increased attention to how Congress approaches constitutional issues. In this important collection, leading scholars in law and political science examine the role of Congress in constitutional interpretation, demonstrating how to better integrate the legislative branch into understandings of constitutional practice.
Several contributors offer wide-ranging accounts of the workings of Congress. They look at lawmakers’ attitudes toward Congress’s role as a constitutional interpreter, the offices within Congress that help lawmakers learn about constitutional issues, Congress’s willingness to use its confirmation power to shape constitutional decisions by both the executive and the courts, and the frequency with which congressional committees take constitutional questions into account. Other contributors address congressional deliberation, paying particular attention to whether Congress’s constitutional interpretations are sound. Still others examine how Congress and the courts should respond to one another’s decisions, suggesting how the courts should evaluate Congress’s work and considering how lawmakers respond to Court decisions that strike down federal legislation. While some essayists are inclined to evaluate Congress’s constitutional interpretation positively, others argue that it could be improved and suggest institutional and procedural reforms toward that end. Whatever their conclusions, all of the essays underscore the pervasive and crucial role that Congress plays in shaping the meaning of the Constitution.
Contributors. David P. Currie, Neal Devins, William N. Eskridge Jr.. John Ferejohn, Louis Fisher, Elizabeth Garrett, Michael J. Gerhardt, Michael J. Klarman, Bruce G. Peabody, J. Mitchell Pickerill, Barbara Sinclair, Mark Tushnet, Adrian Vermeule, Keith E. Whittington, John C. Yoo
The Constitution in Congress series has been called nothing less than a biography of the US Constitution for its in-depth examination of the role that the legislative and executive branches have played in the development of constitutional interpretation. This third volume in the series, the early installments of which dealt with the Federalist and Jeffersonian eras, continues this examination with the Jacksonian revolution of 1829 and subsequent efforts by Democrats to dismantle Henry Clay’s celebrated “American System” of nationalist economics. David P. Currie covers the political events of the period leading up to the start of the Civil War, showing how the slavery question, although seldom overtly discussed in the debates included in this volume, underlies the Southern insistence on strict interpretation of federal powers.
Like its predecessors, The Constitution in Congress: Democrats and Whigs will be an invaluable reference for legal scholars and constitutional historians alike.
This acclaimed series serves as a biography of the U.S. Constitution, offering an indispensable survey of the congressional history behind its development. In a rare examination of the role that both the legislative and executive branches have played in the development of constitutional interpretation, The Constitution in Congress shows how the actions and proceedings of these branches reveal perhaps even more about constitutional disputes than Supreme Court decisions of the time.
The centerpiece for the fourth volume in this series is the great debate over slavery and how this divisive issue led the country into the maelstrom of the Civil War. From the Jacksonian revolution of 1829 to the secession of Southern states from the Union, legal scholar David P. Currie provides an unrivaled analysis of the significant constitutional events—the Wilmot Proviso, the Compromise of 1850, the Kansas-Nebraska Act, the Lincoln-Douglas Debates, and "Bleeding Kansas"—that led up to the war. Exploring how slavery was addressed in presidential speeches and debated in Congress, Currie shows how the Southern Democrats dangerously diminished federal authority and expanded states' rights, threatening the nation's very survival.
Like its predecessors, this fourth volume of The Constitution in Congress will be an invaluable reference for legal scholars and constitutional historians alike.
In the most thorough examination to date, David P. Currie analyzes from a legal perspective the work of the first six congresses and of the executive branch during the Federalist era, with a view to its significance for constitutional interpretation. He concludes that the original understanding of the Constitution was forged not so much in the courts as in the legislative and executive branches, an argument of crucial importance for scholars in constitutional law, history, and government.
"A joy to read."—Appellate Practive Journal and Update
"[A] patient and exemplary analysis of the work of the first six Congresses."—Geoffrey Marshall, Times Literary Supplement
Because of the judicial branch's tremendous success in reviewing
legislative and executive action in the United States, legal scholars
have traditionally looked only to the courts for guidance in
interpreting the Constitution. This, the second book in David P.
Currie's multivolume series, looks to the legislative and executive
branches for insights into the development of constitutional
Currie examines the period of Republican hegemony from the
inauguration of Thomas Jefferson in 1801 to the election of Andrew
Jackson in 1829. During this time of great leadership and
controversy, many benchmark issues—the abolition of the new Circuit
Courts, the Louisiana Purchase, the Burr conspiracy, the War of 1812,
the Monroe Doctrine, and the Missouri Compromise, among others—were
debated and decided almost exclusively in the legislative and
executive arenas. With its uniquely legal perspective and
comprehensive coverage, The Constitution in Congress
illustrates how the executive and legislative branches matched the
Supreme Court in putting flesh and blood onto the skeleton of the
The Constitution in the Supreme Court: The Second Century traces the development of the Supreme Court from Chief Justice Fuller (1888-1910) to the retirement of Chief Justice Burger (1969-1986). Currie argues that the Court's work in its second century revolved around two issues: the constitutionality of the regulatory and spending programs adopted to ameliorate the hardships caused by the Industrial Revolution and the need to protect civil rights and liberties. Organizing the cases around the tenure of specific chief justices, Currie distinguishes among the different methods of constitutional exegesis, analyzes the various techniques of opinion writing, and evaluates the legal performance of different Courts.
"Elegant and readable. Whether you are in favor of judicial restraint or judicial activism, whatever your feelings about the Warren Court, or the Renquist Court, this is a book that justifies serious study."—Robert Stevens, New York Times Book Review
Most recent discussion of the United States Constitution and war—both the war on terrorism and the war in Iraq—has been dominated by two diametrically opposed views: the alarmism of those who see many current policies as portending gross restrictions on American civil liberties, and the complacency of those who see these same policies as entirely reasonable accommodations to the new realities of national security. Whatever their contributions to the public discussion and policy-making processes, these voices contribute little to an understanding of the real constitutional issues raised by war. Providing the historical and legal context needed to assess competing claims, The Constitution in Wartime identifies and explains the complexities of the important constitutional issues brought to the fore by wartime actions and policies. Twelve prominent legal scholars and political scientists combine broad overviews of U.S. history and contemporary policy with detailed yet accessible analyses of legal issues of pressing concern today.
Some of the essays are broad in scope, reflecting on national character, patriotism, and political theory; exploring whether war and republican government are compatible; and considering in what sense we can be said to be in wartime circumstances today. Others are more specific, examining the roles of Congress, the presidency, the courts, and the international legal community. Throughout the collection, balanced, unbiased analysis leads to some surprising conclusions, one of which is that wartime conditions have sometimes increased, rather than curtailed, civil rights and civil liberties. For instance, during the cold war, government officials regarded measures aimed at expanding African Americans’ freedom at home as crucial to improving America’s image abroad.
Contributors. Sotirios Barber, Mark Brandon, James E. Fleming, Mark Graber, Samuel Issacharoff, David Luban, Richard H. Pildes, Eric Posner, Peter Spiro, William Michael Treanor, Mark Tushnet, Adrian Vermeule
"One of the great political works of our time, . . . the twentieth-century successor to John Stuart Mill's essay, 'On Liberty.'"—Henry Hazlitt, Newsweek
"A reflective, often biting, commentary on the nature of our society and its dominant thought by one who is passionately opposed to the coercion of human beings by the arbitrary will of others, who puts liberty above welfare and is sanguine that greater welfare will thereby ensue."—Sidney Hook, New York Times Book Review
In this classic work Hayek restates the ideals of freedom that he believes have guided, and must continue to guide, the growth of Western civilization. Hayek's book, first published in 1960, urges us to clarify our beliefs in today's struggle of political ideologies.
From the $700 billion bailout of the banking industry to president Barack Obama’s $787 billion stimulus package to the highly controversial passage of federal health-care reform, conservatives and concerned citizens alike have grown increasingly fearful of big government. Enter Nobel Prize–winning economist and political theorist F. A. Hayek, whose passionate warning against empowering states with greater economic control, The Road to Serfdom, became an overnight sensation last summer when it was endorsed by Glenn Beck. The book has since sold over 150,000 copies.
The latest entry in the University of Chicago Press’s series of newly edited editions of Hayek’s works, The Constitution of Liberty is, like Serfdom, just as relevant to our present moment. The book is considered Hayek’s classic statement on the ideals of freedom and liberty, ideals that he believes have guided—and must continue to guide—the growth of Western civilization. Here Hayek defends the principles of a free society, casting a skeptical eye on the growth of the welfare state and examining the challenges to freedom posed by an ever expanding government—as well as its corrosive effect on the creation, preservation, and utilization of knowledge. In opposition to those who call for the state to play a greater role in society, Hayek puts forward a nuanced argument for prudence. Guided by this quality, he elegantly demonstrates that a free market system in a democratic polity—under the rule of law and with strong constitutional protections of individual rights—represents the best chance for the continuing existence of liberty.
Striking a balance between skepticism and hope, Hayek’s profound insights are timelier and more welcome than ever before. This definitive edition of The Constitution of Liberty will give a new generation the opportunity to learn from his enduring wisdom.
Edward Shils's attempt to work out a macrosociological theory which does justice both to the spiritual and intellectual dispositions and powers of the mind and to the reality of the larger society is an enterprise that has spanned several decades. In his steps toward the development of this theory he has not proceeded deductively; rather he has worked from his own concrete observations of Western, Asian, and African societies. Thus, despite the inevitable abstractness of marcrosociological theory, the papers in this volume—which have been published separately since the Second World War—have a quality of vivid substantiality that makes the theoretical statements they present easier to comprehend.
Professor Shils has attempted to develop a theory that has a place for more than those parts of society that are generated from the biological nature of human beings and those parts that are engendered by the desires of individuals, acting for themselves or for groups and categories of individuals, to maintain and increase their power over other human beings and to secure material goods and services for themselves. He has argued that there are constituents of society in which human beings seek and cultivate connections with objects that transcend those needed to satisfy biological necessity and the desire for material objects and power over others. This third stratum of social existence, he concludes, cannot be reduced to the other two and cannot be disregarded in any serious attempt to understand the function of any society. Thus Edward Shils, without disregarding its many valuable achievements, has nevertheless parted ways with much of modern sociology.
For this collection of papers the author has written an introductory intellectual autobiography that places each essay in the setting of the development of his thought and that connects it with his other writings.
A leading scholar of the constitution of the United States, David Currie, in this book turns his attention to one of the most important bodies of constitutional law in the world, the Basic Law of Germany. It is a comprehensive and accessible introduction to the study of the German constitution.
Beginning with an overview of the essential features of the Basic Law of Germany, Currie then elucidates those features by analyzing a number of decisions of the German Constitutional Court. Contrasting German constitutional law with the American model, Currie further illuminates the German system and provides an invaluable comparative perspective on American institutions, judicial methods, and constitutional principles.
The German constitutional court recently has become the object of international attention as it has grappled with controversies involving abortion, ratification of the Maastricht Treaty, and the reunification of East and West. Currie examines these issues and their impact on the German constitution.
An appendix includes (in English translation) the complete Basic Law for the Federal Republic of Germany of May 23, 1949 as amended to December 1, 1993.
The essays in this collection commemorate the 175th anniversary of the establishment of the United States Constitution. The writings offer perspectives on topics including: the British background of American constitutionalism; reasons why the Constitution has remained so durable; the counterbalance of liberty and authority it maintains through the Supreme Court and the Bill of Rights; and a balance of both liberal and conservative views.
A masterly introduction to the United States Constitution, this slim book leads the reader through a concise overview of the document's individual articles and amendments. With clear and accessible language, Currie then examines each of the three branches of the federal government and explains the relation between the federal and state governments. He analyzes those constitutional provisions that are designed to protect citizens from governmental interference, such as the due process and equal protection clauses and the confusing first amendment provisions respecting the separation of church and state, and includes discussions of judicial review and freedom of speech and of the press.
A sympathetic yet critical guide, Currie's book enables students and laypersons to understand one of the cornerstones of the Western political tradition. The second edition, along with an updated chronology and bibliography, incorporates the Supreme Court decisions over the past decade that have affected constitutional interpretation.
"Superb . . . highly recommended for those seeking a reliable, understandable, and useful introduction to our constitution."—Appellate Practice Journal and Update
In recognition of the bicentennial of the Constitution of the United States, former chief justice Warren E. Burger, Justice Antonin Scalia, ACLU president Norman Dorsen, and others delivered papers at the first annual DeWitt Wallace Conference on the Liberal Arts, held at Macalester College, St. Paul.
Joining some of the best legal minds in America were novelist John Edgar Wideman, chemist Harry B. Gray, historian Mary Beth Norton, and psychiatrist and social psychologist Robert Jay Lifton.
Opening the conference and this book, former chief Justice Burger emphasizes the daring of those who drafted the Constitution. Justice Scalia, noting the great reduction in curbs to freedom of expression since World War I, points out that the proliferation of freedom has forced courts to distinguish between types of expression.
Although the views expressed in these essays differ widely, opinion concerning the major issue falls into two definite camps: Burger, Scalia, and Dorsen contend that freedom of expression depends on the legal structure for survival; Wideman, Gray, Lifton, and Norton maintain that social forces determine freedom of expression.
In this insightful work, Martin H. Krieger shows what physicists are really doing when they employ mathematical models as research tools. He argues that the technical details of these complex calculations serve not only as a means to an end, but also reveal key aspects of the physical properties they model.
Krieger's lucid discussions will help readers to appreciate the larger physical issues behind the mathematical detail of modern physics and gain deeper insights into how theoretical physicists work. Constitutions of Matter is a rare, behind-the-scenes glimpse into the world of modern physics.
"[Krieger] provides students of physics and applied mathematics with a view of the physical forest behind the mathematical trees, historians and philosophers of science with insights into how theoretical physicists go about their work, and technically advanced general readers with a glimpse into the discipline."—Scitech Book News
In 2005 hopes for closer European integration were dealt a potentially fatal blow when French and Dutch voters rejected the proposed new European Union constitution. Going beyond the instant analysis of journalists, which placed blame for the failed vote on the two nations’ internal politics, Democracy Needs Dispute examines a collection of media accounts of European policy debates to argue that the problem with the EU is its relative lack of vibrant political conflict. Democracy Needs Dispute offers both up-to-date analysis and a rich theoretical understanding of the problems facing further efforts at European integration.
“Out of many, one.” But how do the many become one without sacrificing difference or autonomy? This problem was critical to both identity formation and state formation in late 18th- and 19th-century America. The premise of this book is that American writers of the time came to view the resolution of this central philosophical problem as no longer the exclusive province of legislative or judicial documents but capable of being addressed by literary texts as well.
The project of E Pluribus Unum is twofold. Its first and underlying concern is the general philosophic problem of the one and the many as it came to be understood at the time. W. C. Harris supplies a detailed account of the genealogy of the concept, exploring both its applications and its paradoxes as a basis for state and identity formation.
Harris then considers the perilous integration of the one and the many as a motive in the major literary accomplishments of 19th-century U.S. writers. Drawing upon critical as well as historical resources and upon contexts as diverse as cosmology, epistemology, poetics, politics, and Bible translation, he discusses attempts by Poe, Whitman, Melville, and William James to resolve the problems of social construction caused by the paradox of e pluribus unum by writing literary and philosophical texts that supplement the nation’s political founding documents.
Poe (Eureka), Whitman (Leaves of Grass), Melville (Billy Budd), and William James (The Varieties of Religious Experience) provide their own distinct, sometimes contradictory resolutions to the conflicting demands of diversity and unity, equality and hierarchy. Each of these texts understands literary and philosophical writing as having the potential to transform-conceptually or actually-the construction of social order.
This work will be of great interest to literary and constitutional scholars.
The United States has been distinguished among free governments as a “presidential” republic. In The Effective Republic, Harvey Flaumenhaft shows how the study of Alexander Hamilton’s political thought opens the way to understanding the nature of this republic and the reasons for its development. Although Hamilton exterted an extraordinary influence on American institutions, his contribution and the thinking behind it often have been obscured and misconstrued by piecemeal approaches to his voluminous writings. Here, Flaumenhaft draws upon more than two dozen volumes of Hamilton’s papers to produce a comprehensive account of his thought on the principles of politics—the account which Hamilton himself hoped to give in a multivolume treatise, but died before producing. Beginning with a discussion of the place of general principles in Hamilton’s thought, The Effective Republic proceeds to his views on popular representation as a safeguard of individual liberty. Flaumenhaft then elaborates on Hamilton’s thinking about efficacious administration, especially how the President and Senate meet the requirements of unity and duration in a republic, and on the importance of an independent judiciary for constitutional integrity. What emerges clearly as Hamilton’s chief concern is the need to make government not only safe but effective—hindered from doing harm by its popular base, but also, through the differentiation of administrative powers and tasks, capable of doing good. Interpreting, linking, and, and arranging Hamilton’s words, Flaumenhaft allows Hamilton to speak for himself, to explain his benificiaries his vision of what the republican experiment needed in order to succeed.
Can a U.S. president decide to hold suspected terrorists indefinitely without charges or secretly monitor telephone conversations and e-mails without a warrant in the interest of national security? Was the George W. Bush administration justified in authorizing waterboarding? Was President Obama justified in ordering the killing, without trial or hearing, of a U.S. citizen suspected of terrorist activity? Defining the scope and limits of emergency presidential power might seem easy—just turn to Article II of the Constitution. But as Chris Edelson shows, the reality is complicated. In times of crisis, presidents have frequently staked out claims to broad national security power. Ultimately it is up to the Congress, the courts, and the people to decide whether presidents are acting appropriately or have gone too far.
Drawing on excerpts from the U.S. Constitution, Supreme Court opinions, Department of Justice memos, and other primary documents, Edelson weighs the various arguments that presidents have used to justify the expansive use of executive power in times of crisis. Emergency Presidential Power uses the historical record to evaluate and analyze presidential actions before and after the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001. The choices of the twenty-first century, Edelson concludes, have pushed the boundaries of emergency presidential power in ways that may provide dangerous precedents for current and future commanders-in-chief.
Winner, Crader Family Book Prize in American Values, Department of History and Crader Family Endowment for American Values, Southeast Missouri State University
Since the landmark desegregation decisions in the Brown vs. Board of Education cases, the proper role of the federal judiciary has been hotly debated. Has the federal judiciary, in its attempt to legislate social policy, overstepped its constitutional boundaries?
In this volume, Gary McDowell considers the equity power created by Article III of the Constitution, on which the most controversial decisions of the Supreme Court have rested. He points out the equity was originally understood as an extraordinary means of offering relief to individuals in cases of fraud, accident, mistake, or trust and as a means of "confining the operation of unjust and partial laws." It has now been stretched to offer relief to broadly defined social classes. This "sociological" understanding, in McDowell's view, has undermined equity as a substantive body of law. He urges a return to the former definition as a means of restraining the reach of federal jurisdiction.
Conceived during the turbulent period of the late 1960s when ‘rights talk’ was ubiquitous, Federal Service and the Constitution, a landmark study first published in 1971, strove to understand how the rights of federal civil servants had become so differentiated from those of ordinary citizens. Now in a new, second edition, this legal–historical analysis reviews and enlarges its look at the constitutional rights of federal employees from the nation's founding to the present.
Thoroughly revised and updated, this highly readable history of the constitutional relationship between federal employees and the government describes how the changing political, administrative, and institutional concepts of what the federal service is or should be are related to the development of constitutional doctrines defining federal employees’ constitutional rights. Developments in society since 1971 have dramatically changed the federal bureaucracy, protecting and expanding employment rights, while at the same time Supreme Court decisions are eroding the special legal status of federal employees. Looking at the current status of these constitutional rights, Rosenbloom concludes by suggesting that recent Supreme Court decisions may reflect a shift to a model based on private sector practices.
In this groundbreaking study of American imperialism, leading legal scholars address the problem of the U.S. territories. Foreign in a Domestic Sense will redefine the boundaries of constitutional scholarship. More than four million U.S. citizens currently live in five “unincorporated” U.S. territories. The inhabitants of these vestiges of an American empire are denied full representation in Congress and cannot vote in presidential elections. Focusing on Puerto Rico, the largest and most populous of the territories, Foreign in a Domestic Sense sheds much-needed light on the United States’ unfinished colonial experiment and its legacy of racially rooted imperialism, while insisting on the centrality of these “marginal” regions in any serious treatment of American constitutional history. For one hundred years, Puerto Ricans have struggled to define their place in a nation that neither wants them nor wants to let them go. They are caught in a debate too politicized to yield meaningful answers. Meanwhile, doubts concerning the constitutionality of keeping colonies have languished on the margins of mainstream scholarship, overlooked by scholars outside the island and ignored by the nation at large. This book does more than simply fill a glaring omission in the study of race, cultural identity, and the Constitution; it also makes a crucial contribution to the study of American federalism, serves as a foundation for substantive debate on Puerto Rico’s status, and meets an urgent need for dialogue on territorial status between the mainlandd and the territories.
Contributors. José Julián Álvarez González, Roberto Aponte Toro, Christina Duffy Burnett, José A. Cabranes, Sanford Levinson, Burke Marshall, Gerald L. Neuman, Angel R. Oquendo, Juan Perea, Efrén Rivera Ramos, Rogers M. Smith, E. Robert Statham Jr., Brook Thomas, Richard Thornburgh, Juan R. Torruella, José Trías Monge, Mark Tushnet, Mark Weiner
Viewed alternately as an obstacle to justice, an impediment to efficient government, and a tool by which some groups gain benefits and privileges at the expense of others, public administration threatens to become the whipping boy of American government. In this innovative look at the nation's bureaucracy, Michael W. Spicer revisits the values of the Constitution in order to reconcile the administrative state to its many critics.
Drawing on political and social philosophy, Spicer argues that there is a fundamental philosophical conflict over the role of reason in society between writers in public administration and the designers of the American Constitution. This examination of worldviews illuminates the problem that American government faces in trying to ground a legitimate public administration in the Constitution. Defending and developing the Founders' idea that political power, whatever its source, must be checked, he critically examines existing ideas about the role of public administration in American governance and offers an alternative vision of public administration more in line with the Founders' constitutional design. This book will provide fresh insights for anyone interested in the role of public administration in the United States today.
The Fourteenth Amendment
William Edward NELSON Harvard University Press, 1988 Library of Congress KF4757.N45 1988 | Dewey Decimal 342.73085
Lincoln and the Constitution
Brian R. Dirck Southern Illinois University Press, 2012 Library of Congress E457.2.D574 2012 | Dewey Decimal 973.7092
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
Extension of presidential leadership in foreign affairs to war powers has destabilized our constitutional order and deranged our foreign policy. Stephen M. Griffin shows unexpected connections between the imperial presidency and constitutional crises, and argues for accountability by restoring Congress to a meaningful role in decisions for war.
In Making Sense of the Constitution: A Primer on the Supreme Court and Its Struggle to Apply Our Fundamental Law, Walter Frank tackles in a comprehensive but lively manner subjects rarely treated in one volume.
Aiming at both the general reader and students of political science, law, or history, Frank begins with a brief discussion of the nature of constitutional law and why the Court divides so closely on many issues. He then proceeds to an analysis of the Constitution and subsequent amendments, placing them in their historical context. Next, Frank shifts to the Supreme Court and its decisions, examining, among other things, doctrinal developments, the Court’s decision making processes, how justices interact with each other, and the debate over how the Constitution should be interpreted.
The work concludes with a close analysis of Court decisions in six major areas of continuing controversy, including abortion, affirmative action, and campaign finance.
Outstanding by the University Press Books for Public and Secondary Schools
"A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed." —Amendment II, United States Constitution
The Second Amendment is regularly invoked by opponents of gun control, but H. Richard Uviller and William G. Merkel argue the amendment has nothing to contribute to debates over private access to firearms. In The Militia and the Right to Arms, or, How the Second Amendment Fell Silent, Uviller and Merkel show how postratification history has sapped the Second Amendment of its meaning. Starting with a detailed examination of the political principles of the founders, the authors build the case that the amendment's second clause (declaring the right to bear arms) depends entirely on the premise set out in the amendment's first clause (stating that a well-regulated militia is necessary to the security of a free state). The authors demonstrate that the militia envisioned by the framers of the Bill of Rights in 1789 has long since disappeared from the American scene, leaving no lineal descendants. The constitutional right to bear arms, Uviller and Merkel conclude, has evaporated along with the universal militia of the eighteenth century.
Using records from the founding era, Uviller and Merkel explain that the Second Amendment was motivated by a deep fear of standing armies. To guard against the debilitating effects of militarism, and against the ultimate danger of a would-be Caesar at the head of a great professional army, the founders sought to guarantee the existence of well-trained, self-armed, locally commanded citizen militia, in which service was compulsory. By its very existence, this militia would obviate the need for a large and dangerous regular army. But as Uviller and Merkel describe the gradual rise of the United States Army and the National Guard over the last two hundred years, they highlight the nation's abandonment of the militia ideal so dear to the framers. The authors discuss issues of constitutional interpretation in light of radically changed social circumstances and contrast their position with the arguments of a diverse group of constitutional scholars including Sanford Levinson, Carl Bogus, William Van Alstyne, and Akhil Reed Amar.
Espousing a centrist position in the polarized arena of Second Amendment interpretation, this book will appeal to those wanting to know more about the amendment's relevance to the issue of gun control, as well as to those interested in the constitutional and political context of America's military history.
As social and symbolic animals—animals with language and systems of signs—humans are informed by two different kinds of heritage, one biological, the other cultural. Scholars have tended to study our genetic and symbolic lineages separately, but in recent years some have begun to explore them together, offering a “dual inheritance theory.” In this book, Robert A. Paul offers an entirely new and original consideration of our dual inheritance to date, going deep inside an extensive ethnographic record to outline a fascinating relationship between our genetic codes and symbolic systems.
Examining a wide array of cultures, Paul reveals how the inherent tensions between these two modes of transmission generate many of the features of human society, such as marriage rules, initiation rituals, gender asymmetry, and sexual symbolism. Exploring differences in the requirements, range, and agendas of genetic and symbolic reproduction, he shows that a properly conceived dual inheritance model does a better job of accounting for the distinctive character of actual human societies than either evolutionary or socio-cultural construction theories can do alone. Ultimately this book offers a powerful call for a synthesis of the traditions inspired by Darwin, Durkheim, and Freud—one that is critically necessary if we are to advance our understanding of human social life.
Does Descartes belong to metaphysics? What do we mean when we say "metaphysics"? These questions form the point of departure for Jean-Luc Marion's groundbreaking study of Cartesian thought. Analyses of Descartes' notion of the ego and his idea of God show that if Descartes represents the fullest example of metaphysics, he no less transgresses its limits. Writing as philosopher and historian of philosophy, Marion uses Heidegger's concept of metaphysics to interpret the Cartesian corpus—an interpretation strangely omitted from Heidegger's own history of philosophy. This interpretation complicates and deepens the Heideggerian concept of metaphysics, a concept that has dominated twentieth-century philosophy. Examinations of Descartes' predecessors (Aristotle, Augustine, Aquinas, and Suarez) and his successors (Leibniz, Spinoza, and Hegel) clarify the meaning of the Cartesian revolution in philosophy.
Expertly translated by Jeffrey Kosky, this work will appeal to historians of philosophy, students of religion, and anyone interested in the genealogy of contemporary thought and its contradictions.
At the dawn of the modern era, philosophers reinterpreted their subject as the study of consciousness, pushing the body to the margins of philosophy. With the arrival of Husserlian thought in the late nineteenth century, the body was once again understood to be part of the transcendental field. And yet, despite the enormous influence of Husserl’s phenomenology, the role of "embodiment" in the broader philosophical landscape remains largely unresolved. In his ambitious debut book, Phenomenology and Embodiment, Joona Taipale tackles the Husserlian concept—also engaging the thought of Maurice Merleau-Ponty, Jean-Paul Sartre, and Michel Henry—with a comprehensive and systematic phenomenological investigation into the role of embodiment in the constitution of self-awareness, intersubjectivity, and objective reality. In doing so, he contributes a detailed clarification of the fundamental constitutive role of embodiment in the basic relations of subjectivity.
When the first two volumes of William Crosskey's monumental study of the Constitution appeared in 1953, Arthur M. Schlesinger called it "perhaps the most fertile commentary on that document since The Federalist papers." It was highly controversial as well. The work was a comprehensive reassessment of the meaning of the Constitution, based on examination of eighteenth-century usages of key political and legal concepts and terms. Crosskey's basic thesis was that the Founding Fathers truly intended a government with plenary, nationwide powers, and not, as in the received views, a limited federalism.
This third volume of Politics and the Constitution, which Crosskey began and William Jeffrey has finished, treats political activity in the period 1776-87, and is in many ways the heart of the work as Crosskey conceived it. In support of the lexicographic analysis of volumes 1 and 2, volume 3 shows that nationalist ideas and sentiments were a powerful force in American public opinion from the Revolution to the eve of the Constitutional Convention. The creation of a generally empowered national government in Philadelphia, it is argued, was the fruition of a long-active political movement, not the unintended or accidental result of a temporary conservative coalition.
This view of the political background of the Constitutional Convention directly challenges the Madisonian-Jeffersonian orthodoxy on the subject. In support of his interpretation, Crosskey amassed a wealth of primary source materials, including heretofore unexplored pamphlets and newspapers. This exhaustive research makes this unique work invaluable for scholars of the period, both for the primary sources collected as well as for the provocative interpretation offered.
Without our consent and often without our knowledge, the government can constantly monitor many of our daily activities, using closed circuit TV, global positioning systems, and a wide array of other sophisticated technologies. With just a few keystrokes, records containing our financial information, phone and e-mail logs, and sometimes even our medical histories can be readily accessed by law enforcement officials. As Christopher Slobogin explains in Privacy at Risk, these intrusive acts of surveillance are subject to very little regulation.
Applying the Fourth Amendment’s prohibition on unreasonable searches and seizures, Slobogin argues that courts should prod legislatures into enacting more meaningful protection against government overreaching. In setting forth a comprehensive framework meant to preserve rights guaranteed by the Constitution without compromising the government’s ability to investigate criminal acts, Slobogin offers a balanced regulatory regime that should intrigue everyone concerned about privacy rights in the digital age.
Religion has become a charged token in a politics of division. Religious Freedom and the Constitution offers practical, moderate, and appealing terms for the settlement of many hot-button issues that have plunged religious freedom into controversy. It calls Americans back to the project of finding fair terms of cooperation for a religiously diverse people, and it offers a valuable set of tools for working toward that end.
On March 11, 1854, the people of Wisconsin prevented agents of the federal government from carrying away the fugitive slave, Joshua Glover. Assembling in mass outside the Milwaukee courthouse, they demanded that the federal officers respect his civil liberties as they would those of any other citizen of the state. When the officers refused, the crowd took matters into its own hands and rescued Joshua Glover. The federal government brought his rescuers to trial, but the Wisconsin Supreme Court intervened and took the bold step of ruling the Fugitive Slave Act unconstitutional.
The Rescue of Joshua Glover delves into the courtroom trials, political battles, and cultural equivocation precipitated by Joshua Glover's brief, but enormously important, appearance in Wisconsin on the eve of the Civil War.
H. Robert Baker articulates the many ways in which this case evoked powerful emotions in antebellum America, just as the stage adaptation of Uncle Tom's Cabin was touring the country and stirring antislavery sentiments. Terribly conflicted about race, Americans struggled mightily with a revolutionary heritage that sanctified liberty but also brooked compromise with slavery. Nevertheless, as The Rescue of Joshua Glover demonstrates, they maintained the principle that the people themselves were the last defenders of constitutional liberty, even as Glover's rescue raised troubling questions about citizenship and the place of free blacks in America.
Where did the right to privacy come from and what does it mean? Grappling with the critical issues involving women and gays that relate to the recent Supreme Court appointment, Vincent J. Samar develops a definition of legal privacy, discusses the reasons why and the degree to which privacy should be protected, and shows the relationship between privacy and personal autonomy. He answers former Supreme Court nominee Robert Bork’s questions about scope, content, and legal justification for a general right to privacy and emphasizes issues involving gays and lesbians, Samar maintains that these privacy issues share a common constitutional-ethical underpinning with issues such as abortion, surrogate motherhood, drug testing, and the right to die.
Mitchell MELTZER Harvard University Press, 2005 Library of Congress PS217.N38M45 2005 | Dewey Decimal 810.9358
The United States Constitution is a quintessentially political document. Yet, until now, no one has seriously considered the formative influence of this document on American cultural life. In this ambitious book, Mitchell Meltzer demonstrates the extent to which the Constitution is both source and inspiration for America's greatest literary masterworks.
Convicted sexually violent predators are more vilified, more subject to media misrepresentation, and more likely to be denied basic human rights than any other population. Shaming the Constitution authors Michael Perlin and Heather Cucolo question the intentions of sex offender laws, offering new approaches to this most complex (and controversial) area of law and social policy.
The authors assert that sex offender laws and policies are unconstitutional and counter-productive. The legislation largely fails to add to public safety—even ruining lives for what are, in some cases, trivial infractions. Shaming the Constitution draws on law, behavioral sciences, and other disciplines to show that many of the “solutions” to penalizing sexually violent predators are “wrong,” as they create the most repressive and useless laws.
In addition to tracing the history of sex offender laws, the authors address the case of Jesse Timmendequas, whose crime begat “Megan’s Law;” the media’s role in creating a “moral panic;” recidivism statistics and treatments, as well as international human rights laws. Ultimately, they call attention to the flaws in the system so we can find solutions that contribute to public safety in ways that do not mock Constitutional principles.
After its early introduction into the English colonies in North America, slavery in the United States lasted as a legal institution until the passage of the Thirteenth Amendment to the Constitution in 1865. But increasingly during the contested politics of the early republic, abolitionists cried out that the Constitution itself was a slaveowners’ document, produced to protect and further their rights. A Slaveholders’ Union furthers this unsettling claim by demonstrating once and for all that slavery was indeed an essential part of the foundation of the nascent republic.
In this powerful book, George William Van Cleve demonstrates that the Constitution was pro-slavery in its politics, its economics, and its law. He convincingly shows that the Constitutional provisions protecting slavery were much more than mere “political” compromises—they were integral to the principles of the new nation. By the late 1780s, a majority of Americans wanted to create a strong federal republic that would be capable of expanding into a continental empire. In order for America to become an empire on such a scale, Van Cleve argues, the Southern states had to be willing partners in the endeavor, and the cost of their allegiance was the deliberate long-term protection of slavery by America’s leaders through the nation’s early expansion. Reconsidering the role played by the gradual abolition of slavery in the North, Van Cleve also shows that abolition there was much less progressive in its origins—and had much less influence on slavery’s expansion—than previously thought.
Deftly interweaving historical and political analyses, A Slaveholders’ Union will likely become the definitive explanation of slavery’s persistence and growth—and of its influence on American constitutional development—from the Revolutionary War through the Missouri Compromise of 1821.
The founding of the United States after the American Revolution was so deliberate, so inspired, and so monumental in scope that the key actors considered this new government to be a work of art framed from natural rights. Recognizing the artificial nature of the state, these early politicians believed the culture of a people should inform the development of their governing rules and bodies. Eric Slauter explores these central ideas in this extensive and novel account of the origins and meanings of the Constitution of the United States. Slauter uncovers the hidden cultural histories upon which the document rests, highlights the voices of ordinary people, and considers how the artifice of the state was challenged in its effort to sustain inalienable natural rights alongside slavery and to achieve political secularization at a moment of growing religious expression.
A complement to classic studies of the Constitution’s economic, ideological, and political origins, The State as a Work of Art sheds new light on the origins of the Constitution and on ongoing debates over its interpretation.
In the study of American government, analysis of state governments is often neglected in favor of concentration on the national system. Certainly in-depth knowledge of our country’s constitutional structure is critical to an understanding of American government, but this continuing inattention to the complexities of state governments has left a hole in the literature available to help us understand the role state governments play in the federal system. State constitutions served as guides for the construction of the U.S. Constitution, but they have their own character and significance. As such, it is imperative that teachers, students, and historians fully understand the creation, administration, and adjudication of state governments.
Understanding Missouri’s Constitutional Government presents a case study in the foundations of state governments. The book provides a sweeping look at the constitutional foundations of the processes of Missouri government. Authors Richard Fulton and Jerry Brekke place Missouri within the context of our larger federal system while using the state’s constitution as a touchstone for the discussion of each element of state government.
Understanding Missouri’s Constitutional Government has a dual framework specifically designed to enhance the reader’s learning experience. First, the essential elements of government outlined in the constitution are introduced, and then analysis and interpretation of each of the document’s articles is covered. This organization permits readers to build an understanding of a particular element—for example, the legislature—by learning its fundamental organization, processes, and purposes in a straightforward manner. After gaining that primary perspective, the reader can use the formal analysis in the second section to explore interpretations of each article. Not only helpful to the general reader, this two-part structure makes the text especially useful in courses on American government, state and local governments, and particularly Missouri government and constitution.
In short, Understanding Missouri’s Constitutional Government is an approachable, valuable exposition on Missouri government as reflected in the day-to-day operations outlined in the Missouri constitution. It fills a significant gap in the literature on the interpretation, use, and operation of state constitutions. Since Missouri law dictates that all levels of education should teach government and constitution at the national and state levels, this book will be an indispensible resource for educators while serving as a valuable reference for journalists and public officials in the state.
When Thomas Jefferson struck a deal for the Louisiana Purchase in 1803, he knew he was adding a new national power to those specified in the Constitution, but he also believed his actions were in the nation’s best interest. His successors would follow his example, setting their own constitutional precedents. Tracing the evolution and expansion of the president’s formal power, Untrodden Ground reveals the president to be the nation’s most important law interpreter and examines how our commanders-in-chief have shaped the law through their responses to important issues of their time.
Reviewing the processes taken by all forty-four presidents to form new legal precedents and the constitutional conventions that have developed as a result, Harold H. Bruff shows that the president is both more and less powerful than many suppose. He explores how presidents have been guided by both their predecessors’ and their own interpretations of constitutional text, as well as how they implement policies in ways that statutes do not clearly authorize or forbid. But while executive power has expanded far beyond its original conception, Bruff argues that the modern presidency is appropriately limited by the national political process—their actions are legitimized by the assent of Congress and the American people or rejected through debilitating public outcry, judicial invalidation, reactive legislation, or impeachment. Synthesizing over two hundred years of presidential activity and conflict, this timely book casts new light on executive behavior and the American constitutional system.
Featuring 113 primary source documents, The U.S. Constitution: A Reader was developed for teaching the core course on the U.S. Constitution at Hillsdale College. Divided into eleven sections with introductions by members of Hillsdale's Politics Department faculty, readings cover the principles of the American founding; the framing and structure of the Constitution; the secession crisis and the Civil War; the Progressive rejection of the Constitution; and the building of the administrative state based on Progressive principles.
In 1783, as the Revolutionary War came to a close, Alexander Hamilton resigned in disgust from the Continental Congress after it refused to consider a fundamental reform of the Articles of Confederation. Just four years later, that same government collapsed, and Congress grudgingly agreed to support the 1787 Philadelphia Constitutional Convention, which altered the Articles beyond recognition. What occurred during this remarkably brief interval to cause the Confederation to lose public confidence and inspire Americans to replace it with a dramatically more flexible and powerful government? We Have Not a Government is the story of this contentious moment in American history.
In George William Van Cleve’s book, we encounter a sharply divided America. The Confederation faced massive war debts with virtually no authority to compel its members to pay them. It experienced punishing trade restrictions and strong resistance to American territorial expansion from powerful European governments. Bitter sectional divisions that deadlocked the Continental Congress arose from exploding western settlement. And a deep, long-lasting recession led to sharp controversies and social unrest across the country amid roiling debates over greatly increased taxes, debt relief, and paper money. Van Cleve shows how these remarkable stresses transformed the Confederation into a stalemate government and eventually led previously conflicting states, sections, and interest groups to advocate for a union powerful enough to govern a continental empire.
Touching on the stories of a wide-ranging cast of characters—including John Adams, Patrick Henry, Daniel Shays, George Washington, and Thayendanegea—Van Cleve makes clear that it was the Confederation’s failures that created a political crisis and led to the 1787 Constitution. Clearly argued and superbly written, We Have Not a Government is a must-read history of this crucial period in our nation’s early life.
In this remarkable study, David A. J. Richards combines an interpretive history of culture and law, political philosophy, and constitutional analysis to explain the background, development, and growing impact of two of the most important and challenging human rights movements of our time, feminism and gay rights.
Richards argues that both movements are extensions of rights-based dissent, rooted in antebellum abolitionist feminism that condemned both American racism and sexism. He sees the progressive role of such radical dissent as an emancipated moral voice in the American constitutional tradition. He examines the role of dissident African Americans, Jews, women, and homosexuals in forging alternative visions of rights-based democracy. He also draws special attention to Walt Whitman's visionary poetry, showing how it made space for the silenced and subjugated voices of homosexuals in public and private culture.
According to Richards, contemporary feminism rediscovers and elaborates this earlier tradition. And, similarly, the movement for gay rights builds upon an interpretation of abolitionist feminism developed by Whitman in his defense, both in poetry and prose, of love between men. Richards explores Whitman's impact on pro-gay advocates, including John Addington Symonds, Havelock Ellis, Edward Carpenter, Oscar Wilde, and André Gide. He also discusses other diverse writers and reformers such as Margaret Sanger, Franz Boas, Elizabeth Stanton, W. E. B. DuBois, and Adrienne Rich.
Richards addresses current controversies such as the exclusion of homosexuals from the military and from the right to marriage and concludes with a powerful defense of the struggle for such constitutional rights in terms of the principles of rights-based feminism.