The Founding Fathers V. the People by Anthony KingAs 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.
Publication Date: 2012-01-02
Inherent Rights, the Written Constitution, and Popular Sovereignty by Thomas B. McAffeeIn recent decades the Ninth Amendment, a provision designed to clarify that the federal government was to be one of enumerated and limited powers, has been turned into an unenumerated rights clause that effectively grants unlimited power to the judiciary. Was this the intent of the framers of the Constitution? McAffee argues that the founders had a rather different set of priorities than ours, and that the goal of enforcing fundamental human rights was not why they drafted any of the first ten amendments. They did not intend to grant to the courts the power to generate fundamental rights, whether by reference to custom or history, reason or natural law, or societal values or consensus. It has become increasingly popular to identify our constitutional order as an experiment in the protection of fundamental human rights and to forget that it is also an experiment in self-government. As fundamental as the founding generation believed basic rights to be, they saw popular authority to make decisions about government as being even more central to the project in which they were engaged. They supported natural law and rights, but they felt strongly that those rights did not bind the people or their government unless they were inserted in the written Constitution. They did not contemplate that there would be unwritten limitations on the powers granted to government.
Publication Date: 2000-07-30
The Creation of the American Republic, 1776-1787 by Gordon S. WoodOne of the half dozen most important books ever written about the American Revolution.--New York Times Book Review "During the nearly two decades since its publication, this book has set the pace, furnished benchmarks, and afforded targets for many subsequent studies. If ever a work of history merited the appellation 'modern classic,' this is surely one.--William and Mary Quarterly "[A] brilliant and sweeping interpretation of political culture in the Revolutionary generation.--New England Quarterly "This is an admirable, thoughtful, and penetrating study of one of the most important chapters in American history.--Wesley Frank Craven
Publication Date: 1998-04-06
The US Supreme Court and the Centralization of Federal Authority by Michael A. DichioThis book explores the US Supreme Court's impact on the constitutional development of the federal government from the founding era forward. The author's research is based on an original database of several hundred landmark decisions compiled from constitutional law casebooks and treatises published between 1822 and 2010. By rigorously and systematically interpreting these decisions, he determines the extent to which the court advanced and consolidated national governing authority. The result is a portrait of how the high court, regardless of constitutional issue and ideology, persistently expanded the reach and scope of the federal government.
Publication Date: 2018-12-01
American Constitutional Law by Ralph A. Rossum; G. Alan TarrThe study of the Constitution and constitutional law is of fundamental importance to understanding the principles, prospects, and problems of America.American Constitutional Law, Volume I provides a comprehensive account of the nation's defining document, comparing how its provisions were originally understood by those who drafted and ratified it with contemporary constructions. The authors examine the constitutional thought of the founders, as well as interpretations of the Constitution by the Supreme Court, Congress, the President, lower federal courts, and state judiciaries to provide students with a sense of how the law has been interpreted over the years. Now fully updated, the ninth edition of this classic volume features several new cases includingNational Federation of Independent Business v. Sebelius, Arizona v. United States, andCaperton v. A. T. Massey Coal Company Visit westviewconlaw.com for instructor resources, including recently decided cases, material from prior editions, and a glossary.