front cover of Afghanistan Rising
Afghanistan Rising
Islamic Law and Statecraft between the Ottoman and British Empires
Faiz Ahmed
Harvard University Press, 2017

Debunking conventional narratives of Afghanistan as a perennial war zone or marginal frontier, Faiz Ahmed presents a vibrant account of the first Muslim-majority country to gain independence from the British Empire, form a fully sovereign government, and promulgate an original constitution after the fall of the Ottoman Empire.

Far from a landlocked wilderness, turn-of-the-twentieth-century Afghanistan was a magnet for itinerant scholars and emissaries shuttling between Ottoman and British imperial domains. Tracing Afghans’ longstanding but seldom examined scholastic ties to Istanbul, Damascus, and Baghdad, as well as greater Delhi and Lahore, Ahmed vividly describes how the Kabul court recruited jurists to craft a modern state within the interpretive traditions of Islamic law and ethics, or shariʿa, and international legal norms. Beginning with the first Ottoman mission to Kabul in 1877, and culminating with parallel independence struggles in Afghanistan, India, and Turkey after World War I, this rich narrative explores encounters between diverse streams of Muslim thought and politics—from Young Turk lawyers to Pashtun clerics; Ottoman Arab officers to British Raj bureaucrats; and the last caliphs to a remarkable dynasty of Afghan kings and queens.

By unearthing a lost history behind Afghanistan’s independence and first constitution, Ahmed shows how debates today on Islam, governance, and the rule of law have deep roots in a beleaguered land. Based on research in six countries and as many languages, Afghanistan Rising rediscovers a time when Kabul stood proudly for anticolonial coalitions, self-determination, and contested visions of reform in the Global South and Islamicate world.

[more]

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Against Constitutionalism
Martin Loughlin
Harvard University Press, 2022

A New Statesman Book of the Year

A critical analysis of the transformation of constitutionalism from an increasingly irrelevant theory of limited government into the most influential philosophy of governance in the world today.

Constitutionalism is universally commended because it has never been precisely defined. Martin Loughlin argues that it is not some vague amalgam of liberal aspirations but a specific and deeply contentious governing philosophy. An Enlightenment idea that in the nineteenth century became America’s unique contribution to the philosophy of government, constitutionalism was by the mid-twentieth century widely regarded as an anachronism. Advocating separated powers and limited government, it was singularly unsuited to the political challenges of the times. But constitutionalism has since undergone a remarkable transformation, giving the Constitution an unprecedented role in society. Once treated as a practical instrument to regulate government, the Constitution has been raised to the status of civil religion, a symbolic representation of collective unity.

Against Constitutionalism explains why this has happened and its far-reaching consequences. Spearheaded by a “rights revolution” that subjects governmental action to comprehensive review through abstract principles, judges acquire greatly enhanced power as oracles of the regime’s “invisible constitution.” Constitutionalism is refashioned as a theory maintaining that governmental authority rests not on collective will but on adherence to abstract standards of “public reason.” And across the world the variable practices of constitutional government have been reshaped by its precepts.

Constitutionalism, Loughlin argues, now propagates the widespread belief that social progress is advanced not through politics, electoral majorities, and legislative action, but through innovative judicial interpretation. The rise of constitutionalism, commonly conflated with constitutional democracy, actually contributes to its degradation.

[more]

front cover of Against Obligation
Against Obligation
The Multiple Sources of Authority in a Liberal Democracy
Abner S. Greene
Harvard University Press, 2012

Do citizens of a nation such as the United States have a moral duty to obey the law? Do officials, when interpreting the Constitution, have an obligation to follow what that text meant when ratified? To follow precedent? To follow what the Supreme Court today says the Constitution means?

These are questions of political obligation (for citizens) and interpretive obligation (for anyone interpreting the Constitution, often officials). Abner Greene argues that such obligations do not exist. Although citizens should obey some laws entirely, and other laws in some instances, no one has put forth a successful argument that citizens should obey all laws all the time. Greene’s case is not only “against” obligation. It is also “for” an approach he calls “permeable sovereignty”: all of our norms are on equal footing with the state’s laws. Accordingly, the state should accommodate religious, philosophical, family, or tribal norms whenever possible.

Greene shows that questions of interpretive obligation share many qualities with those of political obligation. In rejecting the view that constitutional interpreters must follow either prior or higher sources of constitutional meaning, Greene confronts and turns aside arguments similar to those offered for a moral duty of citizens to obey the law.

[more]

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The Alaska Constitution
Edited by University of Alaska Press
University of Alaska Press, 2020
The Alaska Constitution, ratified by the people in 1956, became operative with the proclamation of statehood on January 3, 1959. The constitution was drafted by fifty-five delegates who convened at the University of Alaska to determine the authority vested in the state legislature, executive, judiciary, and other functions of government. This conveniently sized new edition will make the Alaska State Constitution accessible to all.
[more]

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Alexander Hamilton
From Obscurity to Greatness
John P. Kaminski
Wisconsin Historical Society Press, 2016
Born in 1755 on a small Caribbean island to unmarried parents, Alexander Hamilton did not enjoy the privileges of wealth or heredity by which so many of his contemporaries advanced to the highest levels of power. Yet Hamilton's natural ability and ambition earned him prevailing influence in the American Revolution and the government created thereafter, eventually securing his place in the pantheon of America's founders.
Editor John P. Kaminski has gathered a remarkable collection of quotations by and about Alexander Hamilton that paint for us a nuanced portrait of a complex man. Through his own words and the words of his contemporaries -- including the man who killed him in a duel, Aaron Burr -- we can gain a better understanding of this fascinating man who rose from anonymity on a small Caribbean island to the corridors of power.
[more]

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America’s Forgotten Constitutions
Robert L. Tsai
Harvard University Press, 2014

The U.S. Constitution opens by proclaiming the sovereignty of all citizens: “We the People.” Robert Tsai’s gripping history of alternative constitutions invites readers into the circle of those who have rejected this ringing assertion—the defiant groups that refused to accept the Constitution’s definition of who “the people” are and how their authority should be exercised.

America’s Forgotten Constitutions is the story of America as told by dissenters: squatters, Native Americans, abolitionists, socialists, internationalists, and racial nationalists. Beginning in the nineteenth century, Tsai chronicles eight episodes in which discontented citizens took the extraordinary step of drafting a new constitution. He examines the alternative Americas envisioned by John Brown (who dreamed of a republic purged of slavery), Robert Barnwell Rhett (the Confederate “father of secession”), and Etienne Cabet (a French socialist who founded a utopian society in Illinois). Other dreamers include the University of Chicago academics who created a world constitution for the nuclear age; the Republic of New Afrika, which demanded a separate country carved from the Deep South; and the contemporary Aryan movement, which plans to liberate America from multiculturalism and feminism.

Countering those who treat constitutional law as a single tradition, Tsai argues that the ratification of the Constitution did not quell debate but kindled further conflicts over basic questions of power and community. He explains how the tradition mutated over time, inspiring generations and disrupting the best-laid plans for simplicity and order. Idealists on both the left and right will benefit from reading these cautionary tales.

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front cover of The Annotated U.S. Constitution and Declaration of Independence
The Annotated U.S. Constitution and Declaration of Independence
Jack N. Rakove
Harvard University Press, 2012

Here in a newly annotated 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.

In an introductory essay written for the general reader, Jack N. Rakove provides a narrative political account of how these documents came to be written. In his commentary on the Declaration of Independence, Rakove sets the historical context for a fuller appreciation of the important preamble and the list of charges leveled against the Crown. When he glosses the Constitution, the Bill of Rights, and the subsequent amendments, Rakove once again provides helpful historical background, targets language that has proven particularly difficult or controversial, and cites leading Supreme Court cases. A chronology of events provides a framework for understanding the road to Philadelphia. The general reader will not find a better, more helpful guide to our founding documents than Jack N. Rakove.

[more]

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The Anti-Oligarchy Constitution
Reconstructing the Economic Foundations of American Democracy
Joseph Fishkin and William E. Forbath
Harvard University Press, 2022

“Eminently readable, and anybody who cares about the future of American democracy in these perilous times can only hope that it will be widely read and carefully considered.”
—James Pope, Washington Post

“Fishkin and Forbath’s accessible work serves as both history lesson and political playbook, offering the Left an underutilized—and perhaps counterintuitive—tool in the present-day fight against social and economic injustice: the Constitution.”
—Benjamin Morse, Jacobin

“Aims to recover the Constitution’s pivotal role in shaping claims of justice and equality…in engaging, imaginative prose that makes even the present court’s capture by the ideological right a compelling platform for a revived social-democratic constitutional politics.”
New Republic

Oligarchy is a threat to the American republic. When too much economic and political power is concentrated in too few hands, we risk losing the “republican form of government” the Constitution requires. Today, courts enforce the Constitution as if it had almost nothing to say about this threat. But as this revolutionary retelling of constitutional history shows, a commitment to prevent oligarchy once stood at the center of a robust tradition in American political and constitutional thought.

Joseph Fishkin and William Forbath demonstrate that reformers, legislators, and even judges working in this “democracy-of-opportunity” tradition understood that the Constitution imposes a duty on legislatures to thwart oligarchy and promote a broad distribution of wealth and political power. These ideas led Jacksonians to fight special economic privileges for the few, Populists to try to break up monopoly power, and Progressives to battle for the constitutional right to form a union.

But today, as we enter a new Gilded Age, this tradition in progressive American economic and political thought lies dormant. The Anti-Oligarchy Constitution begins the work of recovering it and exploring its profound implications for our deeply unequal society and badly damaged democracy.

[more]

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Baby Ninth Amendments
How Americans Embraced Unenumerated Rights and Why It Matters
Anthony B. Sanders
University of Michigan Press, 2023

Listing every right that a constitution should protect is hard. American constitution drafters often list a few famous rights such as freedom of speech, protection against unreasonable searches and seizures, and free exercise of religion, plus a handful of others. However, we do not need to enumerate every liberty because there is another way to protect them: an "etcetera clause." It states that there are other rights beyond those specifically listed: "The enumeration in the Constitution, of certain rights, shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people." Yet scholars are divided on whether the Ninth Amendment itself actually does protect unenumerated rights, and the Supreme Court has almost entirely ignored it. Regardless of what the Ninth Amendment means, two-thirds of state constitutions have equivalent provisions, or "Baby Ninth Amendments," worded similarly to the Ninth Amendment.

This book is the story of how the "Baby Ninths" came to be and what they mean. Unlike the controversy surrounding the Ninth Amendment, the meaning of the Baby Ninths is straightforward: they protect individual rights that are not otherwise enumerated. They are an "etcetera, etcetera" at the end of a bill of rights. This book argues that state judges should do their duty and live up to their own constitutions to protect the rights "retained by the people" that these "etcetera clauses" are designed to guarantee. The fact that Americans have adopted these provisions so many times in so many states demonstrates that unenumerated rights are not only protected by state constitutions, but that they are popular. Unenumerated rights are not a weird exception to American constitutional law. They are at the center of it. We should start treating constitutions accordingly.

[more]

front cover of Baby Ninth Amendments
Baby Ninth Amendments
How Americans Embraced Unenumerated Rights and Why It Matters
Anthony B. Sanders
University of Michigan Press, 2023

Listing every right that a constitution should protect is hard. American constitution drafters often list a few famous rights such as freedom of speech, protection against unreasonable searches and seizures, and free exercise of religion, plus a handful of others. However, we do not need to enumerate every liberty because there is another way to protect them: an "etcetera clause." It states that there are other rights beyond those specifically listed: "The enumeration in the Constitution, of certain rights, shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people." Yet scholars are divided on whether the Ninth Amendment itself actually does protect unenumerated rights, and the Supreme Court has almost entirely ignored it. Regardless of what the Ninth Amendment means, two-thirds of state constitutions have equivalent provisions, or "Baby Ninth Amendments," worded similarly to the Ninth Amendment.

This book is the story of how the "Baby Ninths" came to be and what they mean. Unlike the controversy surrounding the Ninth Amendment, the meaning of the Baby Ninths is straightforward: they protect individual rights that are not otherwise enumerated. They are an "etcetera, etcetera" at the end of a bill of rights. This book argues that state judges should do their duty and live up to their own constitutions to protect the rights "retained by the people" that these "etcetera clauses" are designed to guarantee. The fact that Americans have adopted these provisions so many times in so many states demonstrates that unenumerated rights are not only protected by state constitutions, but that they are popular. Unenumerated rights are not a weird exception to American constitutional law. They are at the center of it. We should start treating constitutions accordingly.

[more]

front cover of The Bonfire of The Decencies
The Bonfire of The Decencies
Repairing and Restoring the British Constitution
Peter Hennessy and Andrew Blick
Haus Publishing, 2022
A reflection on the state of democracy and observance of the British constitution in the United Kingdom.

In The Bonfire of the Decencies, Peter Hennessy and Andrew Blick use Boris Johnson’s tenure as prime minister to argue that mechanisms for the upholding of constitutional principles in the United Kingdom are deficient and require an overhaul. They show that, from the outset, Johnson’s time in office was a source of serious disruption that saw standards and integrity compromised, as well as constitutional values violated. Those problems, however, did not end with Johnson’s removal from office. Rather, they are part of longer-term tendencies in the UK, and of a worrying international trend towards the weakening of democracy. Hennessy and Blick analyze the pre-existing vulnerabilities that Johnson exposed in the UK system of government and conclude with a series of proposals to repair the damage and prevent a repetition of this anxious episode in the UK’s political history.
 
[more]

front cover of Changing Meanings of Citizenship in Modern China
Changing Meanings of Citizenship in Modern China
Merle Goldman
Harvard University Press, 2002

This collection of essays addresses the meaning and practice of political citizenship in China over the past century, raising the question of whether reform initiatives in citizenship imply movement toward increased democratization.

After slow but steady moves toward a new conception of citizenship before 1949, there was a nearly complete reversal during the Mao regime, with a gradual reemergence beginning in the Deng era of concerns with the political rights as well as the duties of citizens. The distinguished contributors to this volume address how citizenship has been understood in China from the late imperial era to the present day, the processes by which citizenship has been fostered or undermined, the influence of the government, the different development of citizenship in mainland China and Taiwan, and the prospects of strengthening citizens' rights in contemporary China.

Valuable for its century-long perspective and for placing the historical patterns of Chinese citizenship within the context of European and American experiences, Changing Meanings of Citizenship in Modern China investigates a critical issue for contemporary Chinese society.

[more]

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The Confederate Constitution of 1861
An Inquiry into American Constitutionalism
Marshall L. DeRosa
University of Missouri Press, 1991

In The Confederate Constitution of 1861, Marshall DeRosa argues that the Confederate Constitution was not, as is widely believed, a document designed to perpetuate a Southern "slaveocracy," but rather an attempt by the Southern political leadership to restore the Anti-Federalist standards of limited national government.  In this first systematic analysis of the Confederate Constitution, DeRosa sheds new light on the constitutional principles of the CSA within the framework of American politics and constitutionalism.  He shows just how little the Confederate Constitution departed from the U.S. Constitution on which it was modeled and examines closely the innovations the delegates brought to the document.

[more]

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The Constitutional Bind
How Americans Came to Idolize a Document That Fails Them
Aziz Rana
University of Chicago Press, 2024

An eye-opening account of how Americans came to revere the Constitution and what this reverence has meant domestically and around the world.

Some Americans today worry that the Federal Constitution is ill-equipped to respond to mounting democratic threats and may even exacerbate the worst features of American politics. Yet for as long as anyone can remember, the Constitution has occupied a quasi-mythical status in American political culture, which ties ideals of liberty and equality to assumptions about the inherent goodness of the text’s design. The Constitutional Bind explores how a flawed document came to be so glorified and how this has impacted American life.

In a pathbreaking retelling of the American experience, Aziz Rana shows that today’s reverential constitutional culture is a distinctively twentieth-century phenomenon. Rana connects this widespread idolization to another relatively recent development: the rise of US global dominance. Ultimately, such veneration has had far-reaching consequences: despite offering a unifying language of reform, it has also unleashed an interventionist national security state abroad while undermining the possibility of deeper change at home.

Revealing how the current constitutional order was forged over the twentieth century, The Constitutional Bind also sheds light on an array of movement activists—in Black, Indigenous, feminist, labor, and immigrant politics—who struggled to imagine different constitutional horizons. As time passed, these voices of opposition were excised from memory. Today, they offer essential insights.

[more]

front cover of Constitutional Identity
Constitutional Identity
Gary Jeffrey Jacobsohn
Harvard University Press, 2010

In Constitutional Identity, Gary Jeffrey Jacobsohn argues that a constitution acquires an identity through experience—from a mix of the political aspirations and commitments that express a nation’s past and the desire to transcend that past. It is changeable but resistant to its own destruction, and manifests itself in various ways, as Jacobsohn shows in examples as far flung as India, Ireland, Israel, and the United States.

Jacobsohn argues that the presence of disharmony—both the tensions within a constitutional order and those that exist between a constitutional document and the society it seeks to regulate—is critical to understanding the theory and dynamics of constitutional identity. He explores constitutional identity’s great practical importance for some of constitutionalism’s most vexing questions: Is an unconstitutional constitution possible? Is the judicial practice of using foreign sources to resolve domestic legal disputes a threat to vital constitutional interests? How are the competing demands of transformation and preservation in constitutional evolution to be balanced?

[more]

front cover of Constitutional Morality and the Rise of Quasi-Law
Constitutional Morality and the Rise of Quasi-Law
Bruce P. Frohnen and George W. Carey
Harvard University Press, 2016

Americans are increasingly ruled by an unwritten constitution consisting of executive orders, signing statements, and other forms of quasi-law that lack the predictability and consistency essential for the legal system to function properly. As a result, the U.S. Constitution no longer means what it says to the people it is supposed to govern, and the government no longer acts according to the rule of law. These developments can be traced back to a change in “constitutional morality,” Bruce Frohnen and George Carey argue in this challenging book.

The principle of separation of powers among co-equal branches of government formed the cornerstone of America’s original constitutional morality. But toward the end of the nineteenth century, Progressives began to attack this bedrock principle, believing that it impeded government from “doing the people’s business.” The regime of mixed powers, delegation, and expansive legal interpretation they instituted rejected the ideals of limited government that had given birth to the Constitution. Instead, Progressives promoted a governmental model rooted in French revolutionary claims. They replaced a Constitution designed to mediate among society’s different geographic and socioeconomic groups with a body of quasi-laws commanding the democratic reformation of society.

Pursuit of this Progressive vision has become ingrained in American legal and political culture—at the cost, according to Frohnen and Carey, of the constitutional safeguards that preserve the rule of law.

[more]

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Constitutional Redemption
Jack M. Balkin
Harvard University Press, 2011

Political constitutions, hammered out by imperfect human beings in periods of intense political controversy, are always compromises with injustice. What makes the U.S. Constitution legitimate, argues this daring book, is Americans’ enduring faith that the Constitution’s promises can someday be redeemed, and the constitutional system be made “a more perfect union.”

A leading constitutional theorist, Balkin argues eloquently that the American constitutional project is based in faith, hope, and a narrative of shared redemption. Our belief that the Constitution will deliver us from evil shows in the stories we tell one another about where our country came from and where it is headed, and in the way we use these historical touchstones to justify our fervent (and opposed) political creeds. Because Americans have believed in a story of constitutional redemption, we have assumed the right to decide for ourselves what the Constitution means, and have worked to persuade others to set it on the right path. As a result, constitutional principles have often shifted dramatically over time. They are, in fact, often political compromises in disguise.

What will such a Constitution become? We cannot know. But our belief in the legitimacy of the Constitution requires a leap of faith—a gamble on the ultimate vindication of a political project that has already survived many follies and near-catastrophes, and whose destiny is still over the horizon.

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Constitutional Revolutions
Pragmatism and the Role of Judicial Review in American Constitutionalism
Robert Justin Lipkin
Duke University Press, 2000
In Constitutional Revolutions Robert Justin Lipkin radically rethinks modern constitutional jurisprudence, challenging the traditional view of constitutional change as solely an extension or transformation of prior law. He instead argues for the idea of “constitutional revolutions”—landmark decisions that are revolutionary because they are not generated from legal precedent and because they occur when the Constitution fails to provide effective procedures for accommodating a needed change. According to Lipkin, U.S. constitutional law is driven by these revolutionary judgments that translate political and cultural attitudes into formal judicial decisions.
Drawing on ethical theory, philosophy of science, and constitutional theory, Lipkin provides a progressive, postmodern, and pragmatic theory of constitutional law that justifies the critical role played by the judiciary in American democracy. Judicial review, he claims, operates as a mechanism to allow “second thought,” or principled reflection, on the values of the wider culture. Without this revolutionary function, American democracy would be left without an effective institutional means to formulate the community’s considered judgments about good government and individual rights. Although judicial review is not the only forum for protecting this dimension of constitutional democracy, Lipkin maintains that we would be wise not to abandon judicial review unless a viable alternative emerges.
Judges, lawyers, law professors, and constitutional scholars will find this book a valuable resource.
[more]

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Constitutional Theocracy
Ran Hirschl
Harvard University Press, 2010

At the intersection of two sweeping global trends—the rise of popular support for principles of theocratic governance and the spread of constitutionalism and judicial review—a new legal order has emerged: constitutional theocracy. It enshrines religion and its interlocutors as “a” or “the” source of legislation, and at the same time adheres to core ideals and practices of modern constitutionalism. A unique hybrid of apparently conflicting worldviews, values, and interests, constitutional theocracies thus offer an ideal setting—a “living laboratory” as it were—for studying constitutional law as a form of politics by other means. In this book, Ran Hirschl undertakes a rigorous comparative analysis of religion-and-state jurisprudence from dozens of countries worldwide to explore the evolving role of constitutional law and courts in a non-secularist world.

Counterintuitively, Hirschl argues that the constitutional enshrinement of religion is a rational, prudent strategy that allows opponents of theocratic governance to talk the religious talk without walking most of what they regard as theocracy’s unappealing, costly walk. Many of the jurisdictional, enforcement, and cooptation advantages that gave religious legal regimes an edge in the pre-modern era, are now aiding the modern state and its laws in its effort to contain religion. The “constitutional” in a constitutional theocracy thus fulfills the same restricting function it carries out in a constitutional democracy: it brings theocratic governance under check and assigns to constitutional law and courts the task of a bulwark against the threat of radical religion.

[more]

front cover of The Constitutionalism of American States
The Constitutionalism of American States
Edited by George E. Connor & Christopher W. Hammons
University of Missouri Press, 2008

This comparative study of American state constitutions offers insightful overviews of the general and specific problems that have confronted America’s constitution writers since the founding. Each chapter reflects the constitutional history and theory of a single state, encompassing each document’s structure, content, and evolution.

            The text is grounded in the model presented by constitutional scholar Donald S. Lutz in The Origins of American Constitutionalism so that even when a state has a relatively stable constitutional history, Lutz’s framework can be used to measure the evolving meaning of the document. With contributors drawn from state governments as well as academia, this is the first work to offer a framework by which state constitutions can be analyzed in relation to one another and to the federal Constitution.

The volume begins with chapters on the New England, Mid-Atlantic, Border, and Southern states. While regional similarities within and between the New England and Mid-Atlantic states are noteworthy, the colonial aspect of their history laid the foundation for national constitution-making. And while North and South moved in distinct directions, the Border states wrestled with conflicting constitutional traditions in the same way that they wrestled with their place in the Union.

            Southern states that seceded are shown to have had a common set of problems in their constitutions, and the post–Civil War South emerged from that conflict with a constitutionalism that was defined for it by the war’s victors. These chapters reveal that constitutional self-definition, while not evident in all of the former Confederate states, has redeveloped in the South in the intervening 140 years.

            Sections devoted to the Midwest, the Plains, the Mountain West, the Southwest, and the West reflect the special circumstances of states that arose from American expansion. Chapters describe how states of the Midwest, united by common roots in the Northwest Ordinance, wrote constitutions that were defined by that act’s parameters while reflecting the unique cultural and political realities of each state. Meanwhile, the Plains states developed a constitutionalism that was historically rooted in progressivism and populism, sometimes in the clash between these two ideologies.

Perhaps more than any other region, the Mountain West was defined by the physical landscape, and these chapters relate how those states were able to define their individual constitutional identities in spite of geography rather than because of it. And although western states borrowed heavily from those with much older constitutional traditions, the contributors reveal that they borrowed differently—and in different proportions—in order to craft constitutions that were uniquely adapted to their historical situation and peoples.

            This work demonstrates the diversity of our governmental arrangements and provides a virtual introduction to the political culture of each—many offering stories of constitutional foundings that are rich with meaning. Although these fifty documents are defined in a federal context, state constitutions are necessary to complete the constitutionalism of the United States. 

[more]

front cover of Constitution-Making in the Region of Former Soviet Dominance
Constitution-Making in the Region of Former Soviet Dominance
Rett R. Ludwikowski
Duke University Press, 1996
With the end of the Cold War and the disintegration of the Soviet Union, newly formed governments throughout Eastern Europe and the former Soviet states have created constitutions that provide legal frameworks for the transition to free markets and democracy. In Constitution-Making in the Region of Former Soviet Dominance, Rett R. Ludwikowski offers a comparative study of constitution-making in progress and provides insight into the complex political and social circumstances that are shaping its present and future. The first study of these recent constitutional developments, this book also provides an appendix of all newly ratified constitutions in the region, an essential new reference source for scholars, students, and professionals.
Beginning with a review of the constitutional traditions of Eastern and Central Europe, Ludwikowski goes on to offer analysis of the recent process of political change in the region. A second section focuses specifically on the the new constitutions and such issues as the selection of the form of government, concepts of divisions of power, unicameralism vs. bicameralism, the flexibility or rigidity of constitutions as working documents, and the process of reviewing the constitutionality of laws. Individual states as framed in these documents are analyzed in economic, political, and cultural terms. Although it is too soon to fully consider the implementation of these constitutions, special attention is devoted to the effect of reform on human rights protection, a notorious problem of continuing concern in the region. A final section offers an insightful comparative study of constitutional law by reviewing the post-Soviet process of constitution-making against the backdrop of Western constitutional traditions.
Constitution-Making in the Region of Former Soviet Dominance is both a comprehensive study of constitutional developments in the former Soviet bloc and a primary reference tool for scholars of constitutional law, and Eastern European and post-Soviet studies.
[more]

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Constitutions of Matter
Mathematically Modeling the Most Everyday of Physical Phenomena
Martin H. Krieger
University of Chicago Press, 1996
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
[more]

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Controlling the State
Constitutionalism from Ancient Athens to Today
Scott Gordon
Harvard University Press, 1999

This book examines the development of the theory and practice of constitutionalism, defined as a political system in which the coercive power of the state is controlled through a pluralistic distribution of political power. It explores the main venues of constitutional practice in ancient Athens, Republican Rome, Renaissance Venice, the Dutch Republic, seventeenth-century England, and eighteenth-century America.

From its beginning in Polybius' interpretation of the classical concept of "mixed government," the author traces the theory of constitutionalism through its late medieval appearance in the Conciliar Movement of church reform and in the Huguenot defense of minority rights. After noting its suppression with the emergence of the nation-state and the Bodinian doctrine of "sovereignty," the author describes how constitutionalism was revived in the English conflict between king and Parliament in the early Stuart era, and how it has developed since then into the modern concept of constitutional democracy.

[more]

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Creating Capabilities
The Human Development Approach
Martha C. Nussbaum
Harvard University Press, 2011

If a country’s Gross Domestic Product increases each year, but so does the percentage of its people deprived of basic education, health care, and other opportunities, is that country really making progress? If we rely on conventional economic indicators, can we ever grasp how the world’s billions of individuals are really managing?

In this powerful critique, Martha Nussbaum argues that our dominant theories of development have given us policies that ignore our most basic human needs for dignity and self-respect. For the past twenty-five years, Nussbaum has been working on an alternate model to assess human development: the Capabilities Approach. She and her colleagues begin with the simplest of questions: What is each person actually able to do and to be? What real opportunities are available to them?

The Capabilities Approach to human progress has until now been expounded only in specialized works. Creating Capabilities, however, affords anyone interested in issues of human development a wonderfully lucid account of the structure and practical implications of an alternate model. It demonstrates a path to justice for both humans and nonhumans, weighs its relevance against other philosophical stances, and reveals the value of its universal guidelines even as it acknowledges cultural difference. In our era of unjustifiable inequity, Nussbaum shows how—by attending to the narratives of individuals and grasping the daily impact of policy—we can enable people everywhere to live full and creative lives.

[more]

front cover of Creating the Land of Lincoln
Creating the Land of Lincoln
The History and Constitutions of Illinois, 1778-1870
Frank Cicero Jr.
University of Illinois Press, 2018
In its early days, Illinois seemed destined to extend the American South. Its population of transplants lived an upland southern culture and in some cases owned slaves. Yet the nineteenth century and three constitutions recast Illinois as a crucible of northern strength and American progress. Frank Cicero Jr. provides an appealing new history of Illinois as expressed by the state's constitutions—and the lively conventions that led to each one. In Creating the Land of Lincoln, Cicero sheds light on the vital debates of delegates who, freed from electoral necessity, revealed the opinions, prejudices, sentiments, and dreams of Illinoisans at critical junctures in state history. Cicero simultaneously analyzes decisions large and small that fostered momentous social and political changes. The addition of northern land in the 1818 constitution, for instance, opened up the state to immigrant populations that reoriented Illinois to the north. Legislative abuses and rancor over free blacks influenced the 1848 document and the subsequent rise of a Republican Party that gave the nation Abraham Lincoln as its president. Cicero concludes with the 1870 constitution, revealing how its dialogues and resolutions set the state on the modern course that still endures today.
[more]

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Cyprus
The Post-Imperial Constitution
Vassilis K. Fouskas and Alex O. Tackie
Pluto Press, 2009

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The Declaration of Independence
A Global History
David Armitage
Harvard University Press, 2007

In a stunningly original look at the American Declaration of Independence, David Armitage reveals the document in a new light: through the eyes of the rest of the world. Not only did the Declaration announce the entry of the United States onto the world stage, it became the model for other countries to follow.

Armitage examines the Declaration as a political, legal, and intellectual document, and is the first to treat it entirely within a broad international framework. He shows how the Declaration arose within a global moment in the late eighteenth century similar to our own. He uses over one hundred declarations of independence written since 1776 to show the influence and role the U.S. Declaration has played in creating a world of states out of a world of empires. He discusses why the framers’ language of natural rights did not resonate in Britain, how the document was interpreted in the rest of the world, whether the Declaration established a new nation or a collection of states, and where and how the Declaration has had an overt influence on independence movements—from Haiti to Vietnam, and from Venezuela to Rhodesia.

Included is the text of the U.S. Declaration of Independence and sample declarations from around the world. An eye-opening list of declarations of independence since 1776 is compiled here for the first time. This unique global perspective demonstrates the singular role of the United States document as a founding statement of our modern world.

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Democracy Needs Dispute
The Debate on the European Constitution
Edited by Cornelia Brüll, Monika Mokre, and Markus Pausch
Campus Verlag, 2009

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.

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Disestablishment and Religious Dissent
Church-State Relations in the New American States, 1776-1833
Edited by Carl H. Esbeck and Jonathan J. Den Hartog
University of Missouri Press, 2019
On May 10, 1776, the Second Continental Congress sitting in Philadelphia adopted a Resolution which set in motion a round of constitution making in the colonies, several of which soon declared themselves sovereign states and severed all remaining ties to the British Crown. In forming these written constitutions, the delegates to the state conventions were forced to address the issue of church-state relations. Each colony had unique and differing
traditions of church-state relations rooted in the colony’s peoples, their country of origin, and religion.

This definitive volume, comprising twenty-one original essays by eminent historians and political scientists, is a comprehensive state-by-state account of disestablishment in the original thirteen states, as well as a look at similar events in the soon-to-be-admitted states of Vermont, Tennessee, and Kentucky. Also considered are disestablishment in Ohio (the first state admitted from the Northwest Territory), Louisiana and Missouri (the first states admitted from the Louisiana Purchase), and Florida (wrestled from Spain under U.S. pressure). The volume makes a unique scholarly contribution by recounting in detail the process of disestablishment in each of the colonies, as well as religion’s constitutional and legal place in the new states of the federal republic.
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The Documentary History of the Ratification of the Constitution, Volume 11
Ratification of the Constitution by the States, Maryland, No. 1
John P. Kaminski
Wisconsin Historical Society Press, 2015
This is the first of two volumes documenting Maryland’s public and private debates about the Constitution. This documentary series is a research tool of remarkable power, an unrivaled reference work for historical and legal scholars, librarians, and students of the Constitution.
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The Documentary History of the Ratification of the Constitution, Volume 12
Ratification of the Constitution by the States, Maryland, No. 1
John P. Kaminski
Wisconsin Historical Society Press, 2015
This is the first of two volumes documenting Maryland’s public and private debates about the Constitution. This documentary series is a research tool of remarkable power, an unrivaled reference work for historical and legal scholars, librarians, and students of the Constitution.
[more]

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Documentary History of the Ratification of the Constitution, Volume 23
Ratification of the Constitution by the States: New York, No. 5
Edited by John P. Kaminski and Gaspare J. Saladino; Senior Associate Editor: Richard Leffler; Associate Editor: Charles H. Schoenleber; Assistant Editor: Margaret A. Hogan
Wisconsin Historical Society Press, 2009
This is the fifth and final volume documenting New York State's ratification of the Constitution. This particular volume includes the complete record of the state ratifying convention. In addition to the official journal and the proceedings and debates of the convention, the volume contains many documents never before published, including the voluminous notes of the secretary of the convention and several of the convention delegates, the correspondence of delegates and spectators at the convention, and the rich newspaper commentaries describing the day-by-day events in the convention. For the first time, historians will be able to see how the New York convention - dominated by a two-thirds majority of Antifederalists - came to adopt the Constitution. This documentary series is a research tool of remarkable power, an unrivaled work for historical and legal scholars, librarians, and students of the Constitution.
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Documentary History of the Ratification of the Constitution, Volume 24
Ratification of the Constitution by the States: Rhode Island, No. 1
Kaminski
Wisconsin Historical Society Press, 2011

This is the first of three volumes documenting Rhode Island's public and private debates about the Constitution. This documentary series is a research tool of remarkable power, an unrivaled reference work for historical and legal scholars, librarians, and students of the Constitution. The volumes are encyclopedic, consisting of manuscript and printed documents-contemporary newspapers, broadsides, and pamphlets-compiled from hundreds  of sources, copiously annotated, thoroughly indexed, and often accompanied  by microfiche supplements.  Pulitzer Prize-winning historian Michael Kammen has noted that The Documentary History of the Ratification of the Constitution series "will be of enduring value centuries hence" and described it as "one of the most interesting documentary publications we have ever had."  The American Bar Association Journal has stated, "Each new volume now fills another vital part of the mosaic of national history."

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The Documentary History of the Ratification of the Constitution Volume 26
Ratification of the Constitution by the States, Rhode Island, No. 3
John P. Kaminski
Wisconsin Historical Society Press, 2013
This is the third and final volume documenting Rhode Island's public and private debates about the Constitution. This documentary series is a research tool of remarkable power, an unrivaled reference work for historical and legal scholars, librarians, and students of the Constitution. The volumes are encyclopedic, consisting of manuscript and printed documents-contemporary newspapers, broadsides, and pamphlets-compiled from hundreds  of sources, copiously annotated, thoroughly indexed, and often accompanied  by microfiche supplements.
 Pulitzer Prize-winning historian Michael Kammen has noted that The Documentary History of the Ratification of the Constitution series "will be of enduring value centuries hence" and described it as "one of the most interesting documentary publications we have ever had."  The American Bar Association Journal has stated, "Each new volume now fills another vital part of the mosaic of national history."
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The Economics and the Ethics of Constitutional Order
James M. Buchanan
University of Michigan Press, 1991
How do persons live together in peace, prosperity, liberty, and justice? This ancient question requires continuing analysis, discussion, and attention – by economists, by philosophers, by political leaders, and by members of the body politic. Buchanan’s interests have always centered on the issues relevant to this question, and his most recent essays reflect a new broadening of perspective.
 
In this collection of twenty distinctly but closely related essays, written over the period 1986-89 following the author’s receipt of the Nobel Prize in Economic Science, Professor Buchanan records his increasing interest in and developing ideas on the constitutional order of a free society, especially in its ethical foundations. The essays in this collection extend beyond the boundaries of economics into moral philosophy, political philosophy, methodology, and epistemology Many of the separate essays were initially delivered by special invitation as lectures to general audiences throughout the world.
 
The linking theme of the essays in The Economics and the Ethics of Constitutional Order is the continuing relevance of Adam Smith’s ideas to issues emerging in the 1990s – issues that have gained a new immediacy since the revolutionary events of 1989. How can societies organize their economies so as to produce goods and services efficiently while at the same time allowing individuals the liberties to make their own choices? Buchanan’s contributions here are directly addressed to this question.
 
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The Evangelical Origins of the Living Constitution
John W. Compton
Harvard University Press, 2014

The New Deal is often said to represent a sea change in American constitutional history, overturning a century of precedent to permit an expanded federal government, increased regulation of the economy, and eroded property protections. John Compton offers a surprising revision of this familiar narrative, showing that nineteenth-century evangelical Protestants, not New Deal reformers, paved the way for the most important constitutional developments of the twentieth century.

Following the great religious revivals of the early 1800s, American evangelicals embarked on a crusade to eradicate immorality from national life by destroying the property that made it possible. Their cause represented a direct challenge to founding-era legal protections of sinful practices such as slavery, lottery gambling, and buying and selling liquor. Although evangelicals urged the judiciary to bend the rules of constitutional adjudication on behalf of moral reform, antebellum judges usually resisted their overtures. But after the Civil War, American jurists increasingly acquiesced in the destruction of property on moral grounds.

In the early twentieth century, Oliver Wendell Holmes and other critics of laissez-faire constitutionalism used the judiciary’s acceptance of evangelical moral values to demonstrate that conceptions of property rights and federalism were fluid, socially constructed, and subject to modification by democratic majorities. The result was a progressive constitutional regime—rooted in evangelical Protestantism—that would hold sway for the rest of the twentieth century.

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Experimentalist Constitutions
Subnational Policy Innovations in China, India, and the United States
Yueduan Wang
Harvard University Press
One of the most commonly cited virtues of American federalism is its “laboratories of democracy”—the notion that decentralization and political competition encourage states to become testing grounds for novel social policies and ideas. In Experimentalist Constitutions, the first book that systematically compares subnational experimentalism in different countries, Yueduan Wang argues that the idea of federal laboratories is not exclusive to the American system; instead, similar concepts can be applied to constitutions with different center-local structures and levels of political competition. Using case studies from China, India, and the United States, the book illustrates that these vastly different polities have instituted their own mechanisms of subnational experimentalism based on the interactions between each country’s constitutional system and partisan/factional dynamics. In this study, Wang compares and contrasts these three versions of policy laboratories and comments on their pros and cons, thus contributing to the discussion of these great powers’ competing models of development.
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The Fallacies of States' Rights
Sotirios A. Barber
Harvard University Press, 2012

The idea that “states’ rights” restrain national power is riding high in American judicial and popular opinion. Here, Sotirios A. Barber shows how arguments for states’ rights, from the days of John C. Calhoun to the present, have offended common sense, logic, and bedrock constitutional principles.

To begin with, states’ rights federalism cannot possibly win the debate with national federalism owing to the very forum in which the requisite argument must occur—a national one, thanks to the Civil War—and the ordinary rules of practical argumentation. Further, the political consequences of this self-defeating logic can only hasten the loss of American sovereignty to international economic forces. Both philosophical and practical reasons compel us to consider two historical alternatives to states’ rights federalism. In the federalism of John Marshall, the nation’s most renowned jurist, the national government’s duty to ensure security, prosperity, and other legitimate national ends must take precedence over all conflicting exercises of state power. In “process” federalism, the Constitution protects the states by securing their roles in national policy making and other national decisions. Barber opts for Marshall’s federalism, but the contest is close, and his analysis takes the debate into new, fertile territory.

Affirming the fundamental importance of the Preamble, Barber advocates a conception of the Constitution as a charter of positive benefits for the nation. It is not, in his view, a contract among weak separate sovereigns whose primary function is to protect people from the central government, when there are greater dangers to confront.

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Founding Factions
How Majorities Shifted and Aligned to Shape the U.S. Constitution
Jeremy C. Pope and Shawn Treier
University of Michigan Press, 2020
The fundamental importance of the 1787 Constitutional Convention continues to affect contemporary politics. The Constitution defines the structure and limits of the American system of government, and it organizes contemporary debates about policy and legal issues—debates that explicitly invoke the intentions and actions of those delegates to the Convention. Virtually all scholarship emphasizes the importance of compromise between key actors or factions at the Convention. In truth, the deep structure of voting at the Convention remains somewhat murky because the traditional stories are incomplete. There were three key factions at the Convention, not two. The alliance of the core reformers with the slave interests helped change representation and make a stronger national government. When it came time to create a strong executive, a group of small state delegates provided the crucial votes. Traditional accounts gloss over the complicated coalition politics that produced these important compromises, while this book shows the specific voting alignments. It is true that the delegates came with common purposes, but they were divided by both interests and ideas into three crosscutting factions. There was no persistent dominant coalition of reformers or nationalists; rather, there was a series of minority factions allying with one another on the major issues to fashion the compromise. Founding Factions helps us understand the nature of shifting majorities and how they created the American government.
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The Founding Fathers v. the People
Anthony King
Harvard University Press, 2011

As pundits and politicians remind us at every election cycle or turn of the television dial, the United States sees itself as the world’s greatest democracy. But what citizens might also hear, if they knew how to listen, is the grinding of two tectonic plates on which this democracy was established. In the venerable tradition of keen foreign observers of American politics, Anthony King exposes the political paradoxes in our system that we may well be too close to see—founding principles of our great democracy that are distinctly undemocratic.

In an extended essay eloquent in its plainspoken good sense, King begins, on the one hand, with the founding fathers who emphasized moderation, deliberation, checks and balances, and the separation of powers—a system in which “the people” were allowed to play only a limited role. On the other hand were radical democrats who insisted that the people, and only the people, should rule. The result was a political system tangled up in conflicts that persist to this day: unelected and unaccountable Supreme Court justices who exercise enormous personal power; severe restrictions on the kind of person the people can elect as president; popular referendums at the state and local level but none at the federal level, not even to ratify amendments to the Constitution.

In King’s provocative analysis, we see how these puzzles play out in the turmoil of our nation’s public life and political culture—and we glimpse, perhaps, a new way to address them.

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From Imperial Myth to Democracy
Japan's Two Constitutions, 1889-2002
Lawrence W. Beer
University Press of Colorado, 2002
While English-language studies of Japanese law have enjoyed remarkable growth in the past half-century, scholars have given only scant attention to the broad sweep of Japan's constitutional history. Deftly combining legal and historical analysis, Lawrence W. Beer and John M. Maki contrast Japan's two modern-era constitutions - the Meiji Constitution of 1889 and the Showa Constitution of 1947. Moving beyond a narrowly focused study of the documents themselves, Beer and Maki present these constitutions as key to understanding differences in Japanese society and politics before and after World War II. Their clear and fluid presentation makes this an engaging and approachable study of not only constitutional law but also this remarkable period in Japanese history.
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Habeas for the Twenty-First Century
Uses, Abuses, and the Future of the Great Writ
Nancy J. King and Joseph L. Hoffmann
University of Chicago Press, 2011

For centuries, the writ of habeas corpus has served as an important safeguard against miscarriages of justice, and today it remains at the center of some of the most contentious issues of our time—among them terrorism, immigration, crime, and the death penalty. Yet, in recent decades, habeas has been seriously abused. In this book, Nancy J. King and Joseph L. Hoffmann argue that habeas should be exercised with greater prudence.

Through historical, empirical, and legal analysis, as well as illustrative case studies, the authors examine the current use of the writ in the United States and offer sound reform proposals to help ensure its ongoing vitality in today’s justice system. Comprehensive and thoroughly grounded in a modern understanding of habeas corpus, this informative book will be an insightful read for legal scholars and anyone interested in the importance of habeas corpus for American government.

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The Hebrew Republic
Jewish Sources and the Transformation of European Political Thought
Eric Nelson
Harvard University Press, 2010

According to a commonplace narrative, the rise of modern political thought in the West resulted from secularization—the exclusion of religious arguments from political discourse. But in this pathbreaking work, Eric Nelson argues that this familiar story is wrong. Instead, he contends, political thought in early-modern Europe became less, not more, secular with time, and it was the Christian encounter with Hebrew sources that provoked this radical transformation.

During the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, Christian scholars began to regard the Hebrew Bible as a political constitution designed by God for the children of Israel. Newly available rabbinic materials became authoritative guides to the institutions and practices of the perfect republic. This thinking resulted in a sweeping reorientation of political commitments. In the book’s central chapters, Nelson identifies three transformative claims introduced into European political theory by the Hebrew revival: the argument that republics are the only legitimate regimes; the idea that the state should coercively maintain an egalitarian distribution of property; and the belief that a godly republic would tolerate religious diversity. One major consequence of Nelson’s work is that the revolutionary politics of John Milton, James Harrington, and Thomas Hobbes appear in a brand-new light.

Nelson demonstrates that central features of modern political thought emerged from an attempt to emulate a constitution designed by God. This paradox, a reminder that while we may live in a secular age, we owe our politics to an age of religious fervor, in turn illuminates fault lines in contemporary political discourse.

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Inconsistency and Indecision in the United States Supreme Court
Matthew P. Hitt
University of Michigan Press, 2019
The United States Supreme Court exists to resolve constitutional disputes among lower courts and the other branches of government, allowing elected officials, citizens, and businesses to act without legal uncertainty. American law and society function more effectively when the Court resolves these ambiguous questions of Constitutional law. Since lower courts must defer to its reasoning, the Court should also promulgate clear and consistent legal doctrine, giving a reason for its judgment that a majority of justices support.

Yet a Court that prioritizes resolving many disputes will at times produce contradictory sets of opinions or fail to provide a rationale and legal precedent for its decision at all. In either case, it produces an unreasoned judgment. Conversely, a Court that prioritizes logically consistent doctrine will fail to resolve many underlying disputes in law and society. Inconsistency and Indecision in the United States Supreme Court demonstrates that over time, institutional changes, lobbied for by the justices, substantially reduced unreasoned judgments in the Court’s output, coinciding with a reduction in the Court’s caseload. Hence, the Supreme Court historically emphasized the first goal of dispute resolution, but evolved into a Court that prioritizes the second goal of logically consistent doctrine. As a result, the Court today fails to resolve more underlying questions in law and society in order to minimize criticism of its output from other elites. In so doing, the modern Court often fails to live up to its Constitutional obligation.
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India’s Founding Moment
The Constitution of a Most Surprising Democracy
Madhav Khosla
Harvard University Press, 2020

An Economist Best Book of the Year

How India’s Constitution came into being and instituted democracy after independence from British rule.

Britain’s justification for colonial rule in India stressed the impossibility of Indian self-government. And the empire did its best to ensure this was the case, impoverishing Indian subjects and doing little to improve their socioeconomic reality. So when independence came, the cultivation of democratic citizenship was a foremost challenge.

Madhav Khosla explores the means India’s founders used to foster a democratic ethos. They knew the people would need to learn ways of citizenship, but the path to education did not lie in rule by a superior class of men, as the British insisted. Rather, it rested on the creation of a self-sustaining politics. The makers of the Indian Constitution instituted universal suffrage amid poverty, illiteracy, social heterogeneity, and centuries of tradition. They crafted a constitutional system that could respond to the problem of democratization under the most inhospitable conditions. On January 26, 1950, the Indian Constitution—the longest in the world—came into effect.

More than half of the world’s constitutions have been written in the past three decades. Unlike the constitutional revolutions of the late eighteenth century, these contemporary revolutions have occurred in countries characterized by low levels of economic growth and education, where voting populations are deeply divided by race, religion, and ethnicity. And these countries have democratized at once, not gradually. The events and ideas of India’s Founding Moment offer a natural reference point for these nations where democracy and constitutionalism have arrived simultaneously, and they remind us of the promise and challenge of self-rule today.

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Insurrection
The American Revolution and Its Meaning
James Kirby Martin
Westholme Publishing, 2019
A New Edition of an Important Interpretation of One of the Greatest Events in World History
The Revolutionary generation believed they were living in dangerous, turbulent times. Their uprising against British imperial authority beginning in the 1760s represented an attempt to preserve their liberties in the face of what they perceived as a conspiracy from above, ultimately brought on by a tyrannical king and Parliament. The actual number of insurgents—we call them rebels or patriots—represented no more than 20 to 25 percent of the populace. Approximately the same number of persons refused to renounce their loyalty to the British Crown; and thousands of them joined British arms to crush the patriot insurrection. Not committed to supporting either side were large numbers of neutrals whose allegiance varied with their proximity to competing military forces. Once independence was secured, however, a great shift occurred. Some key Revolutionary leaders began to worry that the common people, if given too much political authority, would produce agitation from below that could destroy the delicate fabric of the newly established republic. Reckoning with this social and political disorder resulted in a series of constitutional settlements. What emerged was a more democratic system of government operating, at least theoretically, in the name of a sovereign people who had replaced the king and Parliament.
    In Insurrection: The American Revolution and Its Meaning, award-winning historian James Kirby Martin discusses the causes, course, and consequences of the War for Independence. While interpretations of the Revolution and its short- and long-term meaning abound, Martin emphasizes that the insurrection against British monarchism led to more profound changes in human institutions and ideals than many of the Revolutionary leaders actually envisioned or wanted. Once unleashed, the genie of greater freedom and liberty for all could not be forced back into the bottle, no matter how much some persons would have desired. 
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Letters from the Federal Farmer to the Republican
Walter Bennett
University of Alabama Press, 1978

The Federal Farmer’s letters were written in opposition to the Constitution in the form in which it had come from the Federal Convention of 1787. Their immediate objective was to secure amendments to the Constitution before it was ratified by state convention. But the letters are valuable also for the basic political philosophy that they represent, specifically, the political philosophy of the revolution and the Bill of Rights. This philosophy stresses principles of federalism and republicanism and exemplifies the liberal idealism that took root in America during the Revolutionary War era.

 
As first published, the letters comprised two separate pamphlets, one appearing in the fall of 1787 and consisting of five letters, the other appearing in the spring of 1788 and consisting of thirteen letters. The letters have seldom been reprinted, and until now they have never been issued together in a single edition. One of the merits of the present volume is that it includes all the letters exactly as they appeared in the original printed texts. A synoptic table of contents for the entire series has been supplied by the editor, in addition to an editor’s introduction, which includes a critical analysis of the Federal Farmer’s main arguments and also deals with the authorship of the letters.
 
Richard Henry Lee of Virginia was early identified as the author of the letters, and in the course of the nineteenth century this attribution came to be generally accepted. However, Lee gave no hint in his known writings that he had written the letters, and in recent years the attribution of authorship to him has been questioned by competent scholars. The editor makes clear that he considers the evidence supporting the attribution to Lee to be strong, but he concludes, on the basis of his own investigation, that the question of authorship should not at this point be considered to have been settled. He makes no assumption that the matter will eventually be settled but suggests that a thoroughgoing linguistic and comparative analysis of Lee’s known writings and the Federal Farmer’s letters should be helpful in considering the question further.
 
The letters have long been considered to be among the most significant of the political literature published in America during the great debate over the ratification of the Constitution. Alexander Hamilton refers to the Federal Farmer in the sixty-eight essay of The Federalist as “the most plausible” of the opponents of the Constitution to have appeared in print. Recent scholars probing into the literature of these so-called antifederalists have indicated that they have been quite impressed by the general content and comparatively moderate tone of the Federal Farmer’s letters, and also by the seemingly substantial influence that the letters had in articulating arguments that appeared sooner or later in other writings against ratifying the Constitution in it original form.
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Lincoln's Political Thought
George Kateb
Harvard University Press, 2015

One of the most influential philosophers of liberalism turns his attention to the complexity of Lincoln’s political thought. At the center of Lincoln’s career is an intense passion for equality, a passion that runs so deep in the speeches, messages, and letters that it has the force of religious conviction for Lincoln. George Kateb examines these writings to reveal that this passion explains Lincoln’s reverence for both the Constitution and the Union.

The abolition of slavery was not originally a tenet of Lincoln’s political religion. He affirmed almost to the end of his life that the preservation of the Union was more important than ending slavery. This attitude was consistent with his judgment that at the founding, the agreement to incorporate slaveholding into the Constitution, and thus secure a Constitution, was more vital to the cause of equality than struggling to keep slavery out of the new nation. In Kateb’s reading, Lincoln destroys the Constitution twice, by suspending it as a wartime measure and then by enacting the Thirteenth Amendment to abolish slavery. The first instance was an effort to save the Constitution; the second was an effort to transform it, by making it answer the Declaration’s promises of equality.

The man who emerges in Kateb’s account proves himself adequate to the most terrible political situation in American history. Lincoln’s political life, however, illustrates the unsettling truth that in democratic politics—perhaps in all politics—it is nearly impossible to do the right thing for the right reasons, honestly stated.

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Living Originalism
Jack M. Balkin
Harvard University Press, 2014

Originalism and living constitutionalism, so often understood to be diametrically opposing views of our nation’s founding document, are not in conflict—they are compatible. So argues Jack Balkin, one of the leading constitutional scholars of our time, in this long-awaited book. Step by step, Balkin gracefully outlines a constitutional theory that demonstrates why modern conceptions of civil rights and civil liberties, and the modern state’s protection of national security, health, safety, and the environment, are fully consistent with the Constitution’s original meaning. And he shows how both liberals and conservatives, working through political parties and social movements, play important roles in the ongoing project of constitutional construction.

By making firm rules but also deliberately incorporating flexible standards and abstract principles, the Constitution’s authors constructed a framework for politics on which later generations could build. Americans have taken up this task, producing institutions and doctrines that flesh out the Constitution’s text and principles. Balkin’s analysis offers a way past the angry polemics of our era, a deepened understanding of the Constitution that is at once originalist and living constitutionalist, and a vision that allows all Americans to reclaim the Constitution as their own.

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MacArthur's Japanese Constitution
Kyoko Inoue
University of Chicago Press, 1991
The Japanese constitution as revised by General MacArthur in 1946, while generally regarded to be an outstanding basis for a liberal democracy, is at the same time widely considered to be—in its Japanese form—an document which is alien and incompatible with Japanese culture. Using both linguistics and historical data, Kyoto Inoue argues that despite the inclusion of alien concepts and ideas, this constitution is nonetheless fundamentally a Japanese document that can stand on its own.

"This is an important book. . . . This is the most significant work on postwar Japanese constitutional history to appear in the West. It is highly instructive about the century-long process of cultural conflict in the evolution of government and society in modern Japan."—Thomas W. Burkman, Monumenta Nipponica
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Making Sense of the Constitution
A Primer on the Supreme Court and Its Struggle to Apply Our Fundamental Law
Walter M. Frank
Southern Illinois University Press, 2012
 

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

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The Medieval Constitution of Liberty
Political Foundations of Liberalism in the West
Alexander William Salter and Andrew T. Young
University of Michigan Press, 2023

Why did enduring traditions of economic and political liberty emerge in Western Europe and not elsewhere? Representative democracy, constitutionalism, and the rule of law are crucial for establishing a just and prosperous society, which we usually treat as the fruits of the Renaissance and Enlightenment, as Western European societies put the Dark Ages behind them.

In The Medieval Constitution of Liberty, Salter and Young point instead to the constitutional order that characterized the High Middle Ages. They provide a historical account of how this constitutional order evolved following the fall of the Western Roman Empire. This account runs from the settlements of militarized Germanic elites within the imperial frontiers, to the host of successor kingdoms in the sixth and seventh centuries, and  through the short-lived Carolingian empire of the late eighth and ninth centuries and the so-called “feudal anarchy” that followed its demise. Given this unique historical backdrop, Salter and Young consider the resulting structures of political property rights. They argue that the historical reality approximated a constitutional ideal type, which they term polycentric sovereignty. Salter and Young provide a theoretical analysis of polycentric sovereignty, arguing that bargains between political property rights holders within that sort of constitutional order will lead to improvements in governance.

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The Militia and the Right to Arms, or, How the Second Amendment Fell Silent
H. Richard Uviller and William G. Merkel
Duke University Press, 2002
"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.

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The Nation That Never Was
Reconstructing America's Story
Kermit Roosevelt III
University of Chicago Press, 2022
Our idea of the Founders' America and its values is not true. We are not the heirs of the Founders, but we can be the heirs of Reconstruction and its vision for equality.

There’s a common story we tell about America: that our fundamental values as a country were stated in the Declaration of Independence, fought for in the Revolution, and made law in the Constitution. But, with the country increasingly divided, this story isn’t working for us anymore—what’s more, it’s not even true. As Kermit Roosevelt argues in this eye-opening reinterpretation of the American story, our fundamental values, particularly equality, are not part of the vision of the Founders. Instead, they were stated in Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address and were the hope of Reconstruction, when it was possible to envision the emergence of the nation committed to liberty and equality.
 
We face a dilemma these days. We want to be honest about our history and the racism and oppression that Americans have both inflicted and endured. But we want to be proud of our country, too. In The Nation That Never Was, Roosevelt shows how we can do both those things by realizing we’re not the country we thought we were. Reconstruction, Roosevelt argues, was not a fulfillment of the ideals of the Founding but rather a repudiation: we modern Americans are not the heirs of the Founders but of the people who overthrew and destroyed that political order. This alternate understanding of American identity opens the door to a new understanding of ourselves and our story, and ultimately to a better America.
 
America today is not the Founders’ America, but it can be Lincoln’s America. Roosevelt offers a powerful and inspirational rethinking of our country’s history and uncovers a shared past that we can be proud to claim and use as a foundation to work toward a country that fully embodies equality for all.
 
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Negotiating in Civil Conflict
Constitutional Construction and Imperfect Bargaining in Iraq
Haider Ala Hamoudi
University of Chicago Press, 2013
In 2005, Iraq drafted its first constitution and held the country’s first democratic election in more than fifty years. Even under ideal conditions, drafting a constitution can be a prolonged process marked by contentious debate, and conditions in Iraq are far from ideal: Iraq has long been racked by ethnic and sectarian conflict, which intensified following the American invasion and continues today. This severe division, which often erupted into violence, would not seem to bode well for the fate of democracy. So how is it that Iraq was able to surmount its sectarianism to draft a constitution that speaks to the conflicting and largely incompatible ideological view of the Sunnis, Shi’ah, and Kurds?
 
Haider Ala Hamoudi served in 2009 as an adviser to Iraq’s Constitutional Review Committee, and he argues here that the terms of the Iraqi Constitution are sufficiently capacious to be interpreted in a variety of ways, allowing it to appeal to the country’s three main sects despite their deep disagreements. While some say that this ambiguity avoids the challenging compromises that ultimately must be made if the state is to survive, Hamoudi maintains that to force these compromises on issues of central importance to ethnic and sectarian identity would almost certainly result in the imposition of one group’s views on the others. Drawing on the original negotiating documents, he shows that this feature of the Constitution was not an act of evasion, as is sometimes thought, but a mark of its drafters’ awareness in recognizing the need to permit the groups the time necessary to develop their own methods of working with one another over time.

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The New Jersey State Constitution
A Reference Guide
Williams, Robert F
Rutgers University Press, 1997
This comprehensive reference guide provides an  in-depth study of New Jersey's constitution.
 
The year 1997 marks the fiftieth anniversary of New Jerseys wellregarded state constitution.  State constitutions, although the highest source of law within a state, are not well understood by citizens, government officials, historians, political scientists, lawyers, or even judges.

This book is the first single volume to combine a detailed review of New Jersey's constitutional history and analysis of each section of the current constitution.  It is the standard work on New Jersey constitutional development and law.  Divided into two parts, the book first covers the historical development of the constitutions of 1776, 1844, the Constitutional Commission of 1873, and the current constitution written in 1947.  It then traces the origins and major judicial interpretations of each section of the present-day constitution.  It concludes with an exhaustive bibliographical essay which organizes the most complete listing of primary and secondary sources to date.
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The Nicaraguan Constitution of 1987
English Translation and Commentary
Kenneth J. Mijeski
Ohio University Press, 1991

This volume of seven essays on the 1987 Nicaraguan constitution does not accept a priori the judgment that Latin American constitutions are as fragile as egg shells, easily broken and discarded if found to be inconvenient to the interests of the rulers. Rather, they are viewed as being central to understanding political life in contemporary Nicaragua.

The perspectives of the analysts and their conclusions are not consensual. They prohibit glib and facile general conclusions. Some find the constitution to be nothing more than a façade for arbitrary and capricious rule; others that the document reflects clear commitments to the democratic rule of law. Thus far the implementation of the constitution has resulted in the peaceful transition of power from the Sandinistas to the National Opposition Union.

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Notes of Debates in the Federal Convention of 1787
James Madison
Ohio University Press, 1987

James Madison’s record of the Constitutional Convention traces day by day the debates held from May to September 1787 and presents the only complete picture we have of the strategy, interests, and ideas of the Founders at the convention itself.

In this indispensable primary document, Madison not only provides detailed insights into one of the great events of US history, but clearly sets forth his own position on such issues as the balance of powers, the separation of functions, and the general role of the federal government. More than in Federalist, which shows the carefully formalized conclusions of his political thought, we see in Debates his philosophy in action, evolving in daily tension with the viewpoints of the other delegates. It is for this reason that Debates is invaluable for placing in perspective the incomplete records of such well-known figures as Rufus King and Alexander Hamilton, and the constitutional plans of such men as Edmund Randolph and Charles Pinckney.

Madison’s contemporaries regarded him as the chief statesmen at the Philadelphia convention; in addition to this, his record outranks in importance all the other writings of the founders of the American republic. He is thus identified, as no other man is, with the making of the Constitution and the correct interpretation of the intentions of its drafters.

New to this edition of Debates is a thorough, scholarly index of some two thousand entries.

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Originalism and the Good Constitution
John O. McGinnis and Michael B. Rappaport
Harvard University Press, 2013

Originalism holds that the U.S. Constitution should be interpreted according to its meaning at the time it was enacted. In their innovative defense of originalism, John McGinnis and Michael Rappaport maintain that the text of the Constitution should be adhered to by the Supreme Court because it was enacted by supermajorities—both its original enactment under Article VII and subsequent Amendments under Article V. A text approved by supermajorities has special value in a democracy because it has unusually wide support and thus tends to maximize the welfare of the greatest number.

The authors recognize and respond to many possible objections. Does originalism perpetuate the dead hand of the past? How can following the original meaning be justified, given that African Americans and women were excluded from the enactment of the Constitution in 1787 and many of its subsequent Amendments? What is originalism’s place in interpretation of the Constitution, when after two hundred years there is so much non-originalist precedent?

A fascinating counterfactual they pose is this: had the Supreme Court not interpreted the Constitution so freely, perhaps the nation would have resorted to the Article V amendment process more often and with greater effect. Their book will be an important contribution to the literature on originalism, which is now the most prominent theory of constitutional interpretation.

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Partisan Nation
The Dangerous New Logic of American Politics in a Nationalized Era
Paul Pierson and Eric Schickler
University of Chicago Press

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The People’s Courts
Jed Handelsman Shugerman
Harvard University Press, 2012

In the United States, almost 90 percent of state judges have to run in popular elections to remain on the bench. In the past decade, this peculiarly American institution has produced vicious multi-million-dollar political election campaigns and high-profile allegations of judicial bias and misconduct. The People’s Courts traces the history of judicial elections and Americans’ quest for an independent judiciary—one that would ensure fairness for all before the law—from the colonial era to the present.

In the aftermath of economic disaster, nineteenth-century reformers embraced popular elections as a way to make politically appointed judges less susceptible to partisan patronage and more independent of the legislative and executive branches of government. This effort to reinforce the separation of powers and limit government succeeded in many ways, but it created new threats to judicial independence and provoked further calls for reform. Merit selection emerged as the most promising means of reducing partisan and financial influence from judicial selection. It too, however, proved vulnerable to pressure from party politics and special interest groups. Yet, as Shugerman concludes, it still has more potential for protecting judicial independence than either political appointment or popular election.

The People’s Courts shows how Americans have been deeply committed to judicial independence, but that commitment has also been manipulated by special interests. By understanding our history of judicial selection, we can better protect and preserve the independence of judges from political and partisan influence.

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A Pocket Guide to the US Constitution
What Every American Needs to Know, Second Edition
Andrew B. Arnold
Georgetown University Press, 2023

The Constitution is not so simple that it explains itself—nor so complex that only experts can understand it.

In this accessible, nonpartisan quick reference, historian Andrew Arnold provides concise explanations of the Constitution's meaning and history, offering little-known facts and anecdotes about every article and all twenty-seven amendments. This handy guide won’t tell you what the Constitution ought to say, nor what it ought to mean. It will tell you what the Constitution says and what it has meant.

A Pocket Guide to the US Constitution presents a straightforward way to understand the American Constitutional system. Without wading through lengthy legal prose, heavy historical analysis, or polemical diatribes, you can easily find out what the emoluments clause means, learn about gerrymandering and separation of powers, or read a brief background on why slaves in colonial America were considered 3/5 of a person.

Small enough to put in your pocket, backpack, or briefcase, A Pocket Guide to the US Constitution can be used to comprehend current events, dig deeper into court cases, or sort out your own opinions on constitutional issues.

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Political Political Theory
Essays on Institutions
Jeremy Waldron
Harvard University Press, 2016

Political institutions are the main subject of political theory—or they ought to be. Making the case with his trademark forcefulness and intellectual aplomb, Jeremy Waldron argues in favor of reorienting the theory of politics toward the institutions and institutional principles of modern democracy and the mechanisms through which democratic ideals are achieved.

Too many political theorists are preoccupied with analyzing the nature and importance of justice, liberty, and equality, at the cost of ignoring the governmental institutions needed to achieve them. By contrast, political scientists have kept institutions in view, but they deploy a meager set of value-conceptions in evaluating them. Reflecting on an array of issues about constitutional structure, Waldron considers the uses and abuses of diverse institutions and traditions, from separation of powers and bicameralism to judicial review of legislation, the principle of loyal opposition, the nature of representation, political accountability, and the rule of law. He refines his well-known argument about the undemocratic character of judicial review, providing a capacious perspective on the proper role of courts in a constitutional democracy, and he offers an illuminating critique of the contrasting political philosophies of Hannah Arendt and Isaiah Berlin.

Even if political theorists remain fixated on expounding the philosophical foundations of democracy, they need to complement their work with a firmer grasp of the structures through which democracy is realized. This is what political political theory means: theory addressing itself to the way political institutions frame political disagreements and orchestrate resolutions to our disputes over social ideals.

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The Popular Sources of Political Authority
Documents on the Massachusetts Constitution of 1780
Oscar Handlin
Harvard University Press

Rarely is it possible to hear the voice of the people in a revolution except as it filters through the writings of articulate individuals who may not really be representative. But on several occasions during the effort to draft a constitution for Massachusetts after 1776, the citizens of the Commonwealth were asked to convene in their 300 town meetings to debate and convey to the legislators their political theories, needs, and aspirations. This book presents the transcribed debates and the replies returned to Boston which constitute a unique body of material documenting the political thought of the ordinary citizen.

In an important, extended introduction, the editors, interpreting the American Revolution and its sustaining political framework in light of this material, analyze the forces that were singular and those that were universal in the shaping of American democracy. Comparisons are made with popular uprisings in other parts of the world and at other times, and the whole is integrated into a general discussion of the nature of revolution and its relationship to constitutional authority.

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Populist Seduction in Latin America
Carlos de la Torre
Ohio University Press, 2010

Is Latin America experiencing a resurgence of leftwing governments, or are we seeing a rebirth of national-radical populism? Are the governments of Hugo Chávez, Evo Morales, and Rafael Correa becoming institutionalized as these leaders claim novel models of participatory and direct democracy? Or are they reenacting older traditions that have favored plebiscitary acclamation and clientelist distribution of resources to loyal followers? Are we seeing authentic forms of expression of the popular will by leaders who have empowered those previously disenfranchised? Or are these governments as charismatic, authoritarian, and messianic as their populist predecessors?

This new and expanded edition of Populist Seduction in Latin America explores the ambiguous relationships between democracy and populism and brings de la Torre’s earlier work up to date, comparing classical nationalist, populist regimes of the 1940s, such as those of Juan Perón and José María Velasco Ibarra, with their contemporary neoliberal and radical successors. De la Torre explores their similarities and differences, focusing on their discourses and uses of political symbols and myths.

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Presidential Accountability in Wartime
President Bush, the Treatment of Detainees, and the Laws of War
Stuart Streichler
University of Michigan Press, 2023
The American presidency has long tested the capacity of the system of checks and balances to constrain executive power, especially in times of war. While scholars have examined presidents starting military conflicts without congressional authorization or infringing on civil liberties in the name of national security, Stuart Streichler focuses on the conduct of hostilities. Using the treatment of war-on-terror detainees under President George W. Bush as a case study, he integrates international humanitarian law into a constitutional analysis of the repercussions of presidential war powers for human rights around the world.

Putting President Bush’s actions in a wider context, Presidential Accountability in Wartime begins with a historical survey of the laws of war, with particular emphasis on the 1949 Geneva Conventions and the Nuremberg Tribunal. Streichler then reconstructs the decision-making process that led to the president’s approval of interrogation methods that violated Geneva’s mandate to treat wartime captives humanely. While taking note of various accountability options—from within the executive branch to the International Criminal Court—the book illustrates the challenge in holding presidents personally responsible for violating the laws of war through an in-depth analysis of the actions taken by Congress, the Supreme Court, and the public in response. In doing so, this book not only raises questions about whether international humanitarian law can moderate wartime presidential behavior but also about the character of the presidency and the American constitutional system of government.
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Presidential Constitutionalism in Perilous Times
Scott M. Matheson Jr.
Harvard University Press, 2009

From the Constitution’s adoption, presidents, Congress, judges, scholars, the press, and the public have debated the appropriate scope of presidential power during a crisis, especially when presidents see bending or breaking the rules as necessary to protect the country from serious, even irreparable, harm.

Presidential Constitutionalism in Perilous Times examines this quandary, from Abraham Lincoln’s suspension of the writ of habeas corpus during the Civil War, Woodrow Wilson’s enforcement of the Espionage Act of 1917 during World War I, Franklin D. Roosevelt’s evacuation and internment of West Coast Japanese during World War II, Harry S. Truman’s seizure of the steel mills during the Korean War to George W. Bush’s torture, surveillance, and detention programs following the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.

Presidents have exercised extraordinary power to protect the nation in ways that raised serious constitutional concerns about individual liberties and separation of powers. By looking at these examples through different constitutional perspectives, Scott Matheson achieves a deeper understanding of wartime presidential power in general and of President Bush’s assertions of executive power in particular. America can function more effectively as a constitutional democracy in an unsafe world, he argues, if our leaders embrace an approach to presidential power that he calls executive constitutionalism.

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Presidents, Populism, and the Crisis of Democracy
William G. Howell and Terry M. Moe
University of Chicago Press, 2020
Has American democracy’s long, ambitious run come to an end? Possibly yes. As William G. Howell and Terry M. Moe argue in this trenchant new analysis of modern politics, the United States faces a historic crisis that threatens our system of self-government—and if democracy is to be saved, the causes of the crisis must be understood and defused.

The most visible cause is Donald Trump, who has used his presidency to attack the nation’s institutions and violate its democratic norms. Yet Trump is but a symptom of causes that run much deeper: social forces like globalization, automation, and immigration that for decades have generated economic harms and cultural anxieties that our government has been wholly ineffective at addressing. Millions of Americans have grown angry and disaffected, and populist appeals have found a receptive audience. These are the drivers of Trump’s dangerous presidency. And after he leaves office, they will still be there for other populists to weaponize.

What can be done to safeguard American democracy? The disruptive forces of modernity cannot be stopped. The solution lies, instead, in having a government that can deal with them—which calls for aggressive new policies, but also for institutional reforms that enhance its capacity for effective action.

The path to progress is filled with political obstacles, including an increasingly populist, anti-government Republican Party. It is hard to be optimistic. But if the challenge is to be met, we need reforms of the presidency itself—reforms that harness the promise of presidential power for effective government, but firmly protect against the fear that it may be put to anti-democratic ends.
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Rationing the Constitution
How Judicial Capacity Shapes Supreme Court Decision-Making
Andrew Coan
Harvard University Press, 2019

In this groundbreaking analysis of Supreme Court decision-making, Andrew Coan explains how judicial caseload shapes the course of American constitutional law and the role of the Court in American society.

Compared with the vast machinery surrounding Congress and the president, the Supreme Court is a tiny institution that can resolve only a small fraction of the constitutional issues that arise in any given year. Rationing the Constitution shows that this simple yet frequently ignored fact is essential to understanding how the Supreme Court makes constitutional law.

Due to the structural organization of the judiciary and certain widely shared professional norms, the capacity of the Supreme Court to review lower-court decisions is severely limited. From this fact, Andrew Coan develops a novel and arresting theory of Supreme Court decision-making. In deciding cases, the Court must not invite more litigation than it can handle. On many of the most important constitutional questions—touching on federalism, the separation of powers, and individual rights—this constraint creates a strong pressure to adopt hard-edged categorical rules, or defer to the political process, or both.

The implications for U.S. constitutional law are profound. Lawyers, academics, and social activists pursuing social reform through the courts must consider whether their goals can be accomplished within the constraints of judicial capacity. Often the answer will be no. The limits of judicial capacity also substantially constrain the Court’s much touted—and frequently lamented—power to overrule democratic majorities. As Rationing the Constitution demonstrates, the Supreme Court is David, not Goliath.

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Regulatory Rights
Supreme Court Activism, the Public Interest, and the Making of Constitutional Law
Larry Yackle
University of Chicago Press, 2007
We often hear—with particular frequency during recent Supreme Court nomination hearings—that justices should not create constitutional rights, but should instead enforce the rights that the Constitution enshrines. In Regulatory Rights, Larry Yackle sets out to convince readers that such arguments fundamentally misconceive both the work that justices do and the character of the American Constitution in whose name they do it.  It matters who sits on the Supreme Court, he argues, precisely because justices do create individual constitutional rights.

Traversing a wide range of Supreme Court decisions that established crucial precedents about racial discrimination, the death penalty, and sexual freedom, Yackle contends that the rights we enjoy are neither more nor less than what the justices choose to make of them. Regulatory Rights is a bracing read that will be heatedly debated by all those interested in constitutional law and the judiciary.
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Religious Freedom and the Constitution
Christopher L. Eisgruber and Lawrence G. Sager
Harvard University Press, 2010

Religion has become a charged token in a politics of division. In disputes about faith-based social services, public money for religious schools, the Pledge of Allegiance, Ten Commandments monuments, the theory of evolution, and many other topics, angry contestation threatens to displace America's historic commitment to religious freedom. Part of the problem, the authors argue, is that constitutional analysis of religious freedom has been hobbled by the idea of "a wall of separation" between church and state. That metaphor has been understood to demand that religion be treated far better than other concerns in some contexts, and far worse in others. Sometimes it seems to insist on both contrary forms of treatment simultaneously. Missing has been concern for the fair and equal treatment of religion. In response, the authors offer an understanding of religious freedom called Equal Liberty.

Equal Liberty is guided by two principles. First, no one within the reach of the Constitution ought to be devalued on account of the spiritual foundation of their commitments. Second, all persons should enjoy broad rights of free speech, personal autonomy, associative freedom, and private property. Together, these principles are generous and fair to a wide range of religious beliefs and practices.

With Equal Liberty as their guide, the authors offer practical, moderate, and appealing terms for the settlement of many hot-button issues that have plunged religious freedom into controversy. Their book 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.

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Revolutionary Constitutions
Charismatic Leadership and the Rule of Law
Bruce Ackerman
Harvard University Press, 2019

A robust defense of democratic populism by one of America’s most renowned and controversial constitutional scholars—the award-winning author of We the People.

Populism is a threat to the democratic world, fuel for demagogues and reactionary crowds—or so its critics would have us believe. But in his award-winning trilogy We the People, Bruce Ackerman showed that Americans have repeatedly rejected this view. Now he draws on a quarter century of scholarship in this essential and surprising inquiry into the origins, successes, and threats to revolutionary constitutionalism around the world. He takes us to India, South Africa, Italy, France, Poland, Burma, Israel, and Iran and provides a blow-by-blow account of the tribulations that confronted popular movements in their insurgent campaigns for constitutional democracy. Despite their many differences, populist leaders such as Nehru, Mandela, and de Gaulle encountered similar dilemmas at critical turning points, and each managed something overlooked but essential. Rather than deploy their charismatic leadership to retain power, they instead used it to confer legitimacy to the citizens and institutions of constitutional democracy.

Ackerman returns to the United States in his last chapter to provide new insights into the Founders’ acts of constitutional statesmanship as they met very similar challenges to those confronting populist leaders today. In the age of Trump, the democratic system of checks and balances will not survive unless ordinary citizens rally to its defense. Revolutionary Constitutions shows how activists can learn from their predecessors’ successes and profit from their mistakes, and sets up Ackerman’s next volume, which will address how elites and insiders co-opt and destroy the momentum of revolutionary movements.

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The Rise of Constitutional Government in the Iberian Atlantic World
The Impact of the Cádiz Constitution of 1812
Scott Eastman
University of Alabama Press, 2015
In March 1812, while Napoleon’s brother Joseph sat on the throne of Spain and the armies of France occupied much of the country, legislators elected from Spain and its overseas territories met in the Andalusian city of Cádiz. There, as the cornerstone of a government in exile, they drafted and adopted the first liberal constitution in the Hispanic world, a document that became known as the Cádiz Constitution of 1812.
 
The 1812 Constitution was extremely influential in and beyond Europe, and this collection of essays explores how its enduring legacy not only shaped the history of state-building, elections, and municipal governance in Iberian America, but also affected national identities and citizenship as well as the development of race and gender in the region.
 
A bold blueprint for governing a global, heterogeneous monarchy, the Constitution represented a rupture with Spain’s Antiguo Régimen (Old Regime) in numerous ways—in the limits it placed on the previously autocratic Bourbon monarchs, in the admission to its governing bodies of deputies from Spain’s American viceroyalties as equals, and in its framers’ vociferous debate over the status of castas (those of mixed ancestry) and slaves. The Rise of Constitutional Government in the Iberian Atlantic World covers these issues and adopts a transatlantic perspective that recovers the voices of those who created a vibrant political culture accessible to commoners and elite alike.
 
The bicentenary of the Constitution of 1812 offered scholars an excellent moment to reexamine the form and role of constitutions across the Spanish-speaking world. Constitutionalism remains a topic of intense debate in Latin America, while contemporary Spain itself continues to seek ways to balance a strong central government with centripetal forces in its regions, notably the Basque and Catalan provinces. The multifaceted essays compiled here by Scott Eastman and Natalia Sobrevilla Perea both shed new light on the early, liberal Hispanic societies and show how the legacies of those societies shape modern Spain and Latin America.
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The Royalist Revolution
Monarchy and the American Founding
Eric Nelson
Harvard University Press, 2014

Winner of the Society of the Cincinnati History Prize, Society of the Cincinnati in the State of New Jersey
Finalist, George Washington Prize
A Choice Outstanding Academic Title of 2015

Generations of students have been taught that the American Revolution was a revolt against royal tyranny. In this revisionist account, Eric Nelson argues that a great many of our “founding fathers” saw themselves as rebels against the British Parliament, not the Crown. The Royalist Revolution interprets the patriot campaign of the 1770s as an insurrection in favor of royal power—driven by the conviction that the Lords and Commons had usurped the just prerogatives of the monarch.

The Royalist Revolution is a thought-provoking book, and Nelson is to be commended for reviving discussion of the complex ideology of the American Revolution. He reminds us that there was a spectrum of opinion even among the most ardent patriots and a deep British influence on the political institutions of the new country.”
—Andrew O’Shaughnessy, Wall Street Journal

“A scrupulous archaeology of American revolutionary thought.”
—Thomas Meaney, The Nation

“A powerful double-barrelled challenge to historiographical orthodoxy.”
—Colin Kidd, London Review of Books

“[A] brilliant and provocative analysis of the American Revolution.”
—John Brewer, New York Review of Books

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The Second Creation
Fixing the American Constitution in the Founding Era
Jonathan Gienapp
Harvard University Press, 2018

A stunning revision of our founding document’s evolving history that forces us to confront anew the question that animated the founders so long ago: What is our Constitution?

Americans widely believe that the United States Constitution was created when it was drafted in 1787 and ratified in 1788. But in a shrewd rereading of the Founding era, Jonathan Gienapp upends this long-held assumption, recovering the unknown story of American constitutional creation in the decade after its adoption—a story with explosive implications for current debates over constitutional originalism and interpretation.

When the Constitution first appeared, it was shrouded in uncertainty. Not only was its meaning unclear, but so too was its essential nature. Was the American Constitution a written text, or something else? Was it a legal text? Was it finished or unfinished? What rules would guide its interpretation? Who would adjudicate competing readings? As political leaders put the Constitution to work, none of these questions had answers. Through vigorous debates they confronted the document’s uncertainty, and—over time—how these leaders imagined the Constitution radically changed. They had begun trying to fix, or resolve, an imperfect document, but they ended up fixing, or cementing, a very particular notion of the Constitution as a distinctively textual and historical artifact circumscribed in space and time. This means that some of the Constitution’s most definitive characteristics, ones which are often treated as innate, were only added later and were thus contingent and optional.

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Secular Revelations
The Constitution of the United States and Classic American Literature
Mitchell Meltzer
Harvard University Press, 2005

The United States Constitution, battleground of a politically bifurcated nation, and sponsor of that nation's now threatened cultural unity, is a quintessentially political document. Americans' representatives swear loyalty to it, and her soldiers die for it. Yet no one has ever seriously considered the formative influence this document, so central a force for all Americans, has had on American cultural life. Now, in this ambitious book, Mitchell Meltzer has for the first time demonstrated the extent to which the Constitution is both source and inspiration for America's greatest literary masterworks.

Retelling the history of the Constitution's formation, Meltzer explains how the peculiarly paradoxical form of the Constitution, its "secular revelation," underwent a literary rebirth after the passing of the Founders' generation, and issued in what is strangest and most characteristic in America's classic literature. By combining the secular with the revealed, a Constitutional poetics results that gives rise, in both politics and literature, to the formation of more perfect unions.

Offering powerful new perspectives on Lincoln, Emerson, Whitman, and Melville, Meltzer reveals how the Constitution counterintuitively generated such oft-noted tendencies as these writers' penchant for self-contradiction, their willingness to court radical discontinuity, and their intensely conflicted, romance-directed fictions.

Secular Revelations presents the Constitution in a new role, the inspiration of a great national literature.

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State Formation
Anthropological Perspectives
Edited by Christian Krohn-Hansen and Knut G. Nustad
Pluto Press, 2005
What is the 'state' and how can we best study it? This book investigates new ways of analysing the state.



The contributors argue that the state is not a fixed and definite object. Our perceptions of it are constantly changing, and differ from person to person. What is your idea of the state if you are a refugee? Or if you are living in post-aparteid South Africa? Our perceptions are formed and sustained by evolving discourses and techniques---these come from institutions such as government, but are also made by communities and individuals.



The contributors examine how state structures are viewed from the inside, by official state bodies, composed of bureaucrats and politicians; and how these state manifestations are supported, reproduced or transformed at a local level. An outline of theoretical approaches is followed by nine case studies ranging from South Africa to Peru to Norway.



With a good range of contributors including Cris Shore, Clifton Crais, Ana Alonso and Bruce Kapferer, this is a comprehensive critical analysis of anthropological approaches to the study of state formation.

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Uncovering the Constitution's Moral Design
Paul R. DeHart
University of Missouri Press, 2007
The U.S. Constitution provides a framework for our laws, but what does it have to say about morality? Paul DeHart ferrets out that document’s implicit moral assumptions, demonstrating that the Constitution presupposes a natural law to which human law must conform. His argument works toward resolving current debates over the Constitution’s normative framework while remaining detached from the social issues that divide today’s political arena.

In critiquing previous attempts at describing and evaluating the Constitution’s normative framework, DeHart demonstrates that the Constitution’s moral framework corresponds largely to classical moral theory. Using the method of Inference to the Best Explanation to ascertain our Constitution’s moral meaning, he challenges the logical coherency of modern moral philosophy, normative positivism, and other theories that the Constitution has been argued to embody, offering instead an innovative methodology that can be applied to uncovering the normative framework of other constitutions as well.
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Undermining the Idea of India
Gautam Patel
Seagull Books, 2022
A searing manifesto for troubled times in India.

“India is improbable. By any measure of logic or reason, it should not be. Not in this form. And yet it is.”
 
With this provocation, Justice Gautam Patel of the Bombay High Court sketches the exoskeleton of this improbability—the “Constitutional” idea of India. Justice Patel argues that the devolution of power is necessary for the survival of any liberal democracy, maintaining the idea that “the right to choose one’s own government is the right to dissent.” Decrying the portrayal of politics as sport, Patel elucidates the strategies and tactics used by “nimble” governments to enforce a culture of “broad-spectrum illiberalism.” A champion of transparency in the judiciary, Patel argues that the Internet and the judiciary must serve as beacons in this age of precarity. A timely text that comes at a juncture where liberal democracies across the world are facing existential threats, Undermining the Idea of India is a searing manifesto for our troubled times.
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Understanding Missouri's Constitutional Government
Richard Fulton and Jerry Brekke
University of Missouri Press, 2010
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 indispensable resource for educators while serving as a valuable reference for journalists and public officials in the state.
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front cover of Understanding Privacy
Understanding Privacy
Daniel J. Solove
Harvard University Press, 2010

Privacy is one of the most important concepts of our time, yet it is also one of the most elusive. As rapidly changing technology makes information increasingly available, scholars, activists, and policymakers have struggled to define privacy, with many conceding that the task is virtually impossible.

In this concise and lucid book, Daniel J. Solove offers a comprehensive overview of the difficulties involved in discussions of privacy and ultimately provides a provocative resolution. He argues that no single definition can be workable, but rather that there are multiple forms of privacy, related to one another by family resemblances. His theory bridges cultural differences and addresses historical changes in views on privacy. Drawing on a broad array of interdisciplinary sources, Solove sets forth a framework for understanding privacy that provides clear, practical guidance for engaging with relevant issues.

Understanding Privacy will be an essential introduction to long-standing debates and an invaluable resource for crafting laws and policies about surveillance, data mining, identity theft, state involvement in reproductive and marital decisions, and other pressing contemporary matters concerning privacy.

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front cover of The Upside-Down Constitution
The Upside-Down Constitution
Michael S. Greve
Harvard University Press, 2012

Over the course of the nation’s history, the Constitution has been turned upside-down, Michael Greve argues in this provocative book. The Constitution’s vision of a federalism in which local, state, and federal government compete to satisfy the preferences of individuals has given way to a cooperative, cartelized federalism that enables interest groups to leverage power at every level for their own benefit. Greve traces this inversion from the Constitution’s founding through today, dispelling much received wisdom along the way.

The Upside-Down Constitution shows how federalism’s transformation was a response to states’ demands, not an imposition on them. From the nineteenth-century judicial elaboration of a competitive federal order, to the New Deal transformation, to the contemporary Supreme Court’s impoverished understanding of constitutional structure, and the “devolution” in vogue today, Greve describes a trend that will lead to more government and fiscal profligacy, not less. Taking aim at both the progressive heirs of the New Deal and the vocal originalists of our own time, The Upside-Down Constitution explains why the current fiscal crisis will soon compel a fundamental renegotiation of a new federalism grounded in constitutional principles.

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The U.S. Constitution
A Reader
Hillsdale College Politics Faculty
American Philanthropic, 2011

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.

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We the Elites
Why the US Constitution Serves the Few
Robert
Pluto Press, 2022

An adroit collection of essays exposing the constitution for what it really is – a rulebook to protect capitalism for the elites. 

Written by 55 of the richest white men of early America, and signed by only 39 of them, the constitution is the sacred text of American nationalism. Popular perceptions of it are mired in idolatry, myth, and misinformation - many Americans have opinions on the constitution but have no idea what’s in it.

The misplaced faith of social movements in the constitution as a framework for achieving justice actually obstructs social change - incessant lengthy election cycles, staggered terms, and legislative sessions have kept social movements trapped in a redundant loop. This stymies progress on issues like labor rights, public health, and climate change, projecting the American people and the rest of the world towards destruction.

Robert Ovetz’s reading of the constitution shows that the system isn’t broken. Far from it. It works as it was designed.

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front cover of When Words Lose Their Meaning
When Words Lose Their Meaning
Constitutions and Reconstitutions of Language, Character, and Community
James Boyd White
University of Chicago Press, 1984
Through fresh readings of texts ranging from Homer's Iliad, Swift's Tale of a Tub, and Austen's Emma through the United States Constitution and McCulloch v. Maryland, James Boyd White examines the relationship between an individual mind and its language and culture as well as the "textual community" established between writer and audience. These striking textual analyses develop a rhetoric—a "way of reading" that can be brought to any text but that, in broader terms, becomes a way of learning that can shape the reader's life.

"In this ambitious and demanding work of literary criticism, James Boyd White seeks to communicate 'a sense of reading in a new and different way.' . . . [White's] marriage of lawyerly acumen and classically trained literary sensibility—equally evident in his earlier work, The Legal Imagination—gives the best parts of When Words Lose Their Meaning a gravity and moral earnestness rare in the pages of contemporary literary criticism."—Roger Kimball, American Scholar

"James Boyd White makes a state-of-the-art attempt to enrich legal theory with the insights of modern literary theory. Of its kind, it is a singular and standout achievement. . . . [White's] selections span the whole range of legal, literary, and political offerings, and his writing evidences a sustained and intimate experience with these texts. Writing with natural elegance, White manages to be insightful and inciteful. Throughout, his timely book is energized by an urgent love of literature and law and their liberating potential. His passion and sincerity are palpable."—Allan C. Hutchinson, Yale Law Journal

"Undeniably a unique and significant work. . . . When Words Lose Their Meaning is a rewarding book by a distinguished legal scholar. It is a showcase for the most interesting sort of inter-disciplinary work: the kind that brings together from traditionally separate fields not so much information as ideas and approaches."—R. B. Kershner, Jr., Georgia Review
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