The still-unfolding story of America’s Constitution is a history of heroes and villains—the flawed visionaries who inspired and crafted liberty’s safeguards, and the shortsighted opportunists who defied them. Those stories are known by few today. In Our Lost Constitution, Senator Mike Lee tells the dramatic, little-known stories behind six of the Constitution’s most indispensible provisions. He shows their rise. He shows their fall. And he makes vividly clear how nearly every abuse of federal power today is rooted in neglect of this Lost Constitution. For example: • The Origination Clause says that all bills to raise taxes must originate in the House of Representatives, but contempt for the clause ensured the passage of Obamacare. • The Fourth Amendment protects us against unreasonable searches and seizures, but the NSA now collects our private data without a warrant. • The Legislative Powers Clause means that only Congress can pass laws, but unelected agencies now produce ninety-nine out of every one hundred pages of legal rules imposed on the American people. Lee’s cast of characters includes a former Ku Klux Klansman, who hijacked the Establishment Clause to strangle Catholic schools; the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court, who called the Second Amendment a fraud; and the revered president who began his first of four terms by threating to shatter the balance of power between Congress and the president, and who began his second term by vowing to do the same to the Supreme Court. Fortunately, the Constitution has always had its defenders. Senator Lee tells the story of how Andrew Jackson, noted for his courage in duels and politics, stood firm against the unconstitutional expansion of federal powers. He brings to life Ben Franklin’s genius for compromise at a deeply divided constitutional convention. And he tells how in 2008, a couple of unlikely challengers persuaded the Supreme Court to rediscover the Second Amendment’s right to keep and bear arms. Sections of the Constitution may have been forgotten, but it’s not too late to bring them back—if only we remember why we once demanded them and how we later lost them. Drawing on his experience working in all three branches of government, Senator Lee makes a bold case for resurrecting the Lost Constitution to restore and defend our fundamental liberties.
The U.S. Constitution found in school textbooks and under glass in Washington is not the one enforced today by the Supreme Court. In Restoring the Lost Constitution, Randy Barnett argues that since the nation's founding, but especially since the 1930s, the courts have been cutting holes in the original Constitution and its amendments to eliminate the parts that protect liberty from the power of government. From the Commerce Clause, to the Necessary and Proper Clause, to the Ninth and Tenth Amendments, to the Privileges or Immunities Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment, the Supreme Court has rendered each of these provisions toothless. In the process, the written Constitution has been lost. Barnett establishes the original meaning of these lost clauses and offers a practical way to restore them to their central role in constraining government: adopting a "presumption of liberty" to give the benefit of the doubt to citizens when laws restrict their rightful exercises of liberty. He also provides a new, realistic and philosophically rigorous theory of constitutional legitimacy that justifies both interpreting the Constitution according to its original meaning and, where that meaning is vague or open-ended, construing it so as to better protect the rights retained by the people. As clearly argued as it is insightful and provocative, Restoring the Lost Constitution forcefully disputes the conventional wisdom, posing a powerful challenge to which others must now respond. This updated edition features an afterword with further reflections on individual popular sovereignty, originalist interpretation, judicial engagement, and the gravitational force that original meaning has exerted on the Supreme Court in several recent cases.
Genre: Biography & Autobiography
When Clarence Thomas joined the Supreme Court in 1991, he found with dismay that it was interpreting a very different Constitution from the one the framers had written—the one that had established a federal government manned by the people’s own elected representatives, charged with protecting citizens’ inborn rights while leaving them free to work out their individual happiness themselves, in their families, communities, and states. He found that his predecessors on the Court were complicit in the first step of this transformation, when in the 1870s they defanged the Civil War amendments intended to give full citizenship to his fellow black Americans. In the next generation, Woodrow Wilson, dismissing the framers and their work as obsolete, set out to replace laws made by the people’s representatives with rules made by highly educated, modern, supposedly nonpartisan “experts,” an idea Franklin Roosevelt supersized in the New Deal agencies that he acknowledged had no constitutional warrant. Then, under Chief Justice Earl Warren in the 1950s and 1960s, the Nine set about realizing Wilson’s dream of a Supreme Court sitting as a permanent constitutional convention, conjuring up laws out of smoke and mirrors and justifying them as expressions of the spirit of the age. But Thomas, who joined the Court after eight years running one of the myriad administrative agencies that the Great Society had piled on top of FDR’s batch, had deep misgivings about the new governmental order. He shared the framers’ vision of free, self-governing citizens forging their own fate. And from his own experience growing up in segregated Savannah, flirting with and rejecting black radicalism at college, and running an agency that supposedly advanced equality, he doubted that unelected experts and justices really did understand the moral arc of the universe better than the people themselves, or that the rules and rulings they issued made lives better rather than worse. So in the hundreds of opinions he has written in more than a quarter century on the Court—the most important of them explained in these pages in clear, non-lawyerly language—he has questioned the constitutional underpinnings of the new order and tried to restore the limited, self-governing original one, as more legitimate, more just, and more free than the one that grew up in its stead. The Court now seems set to move down the trail he blazed. A free, self-governing nation needs independent-minded, self-reliant citizens, and Thomas’s biography, vividly recounted here, produced just the kind of character that the founders assumed would always mark Americans. America’s future depends on the power of its culture and institutions to form ever more citizens of this stamp.
Rare-book expert Peter Fallon and his girlfriend, Evangeline, the main characters from Back Bay and Harvard Yard, are back for another treasure hunt through time. They have learned of an early, annotated draft of the Constitution, stolen and smuggled out of Philadelphia. The draft's marginal notes spell out, in shocking detail, the Founders' unequivocal intentions---the unmistakable meaning of the Bill of Rights. Peddled and purloined, trafficked and concealed for over two centuries, the lost Constitution could forever change America's history---and its future. Moreover, Congress is already at war, fighting tooth and claw over the eternally contentious Bill of Rights. When word gets out of the lost draft's existence, it launches a frenzied search, as both sides of the partisan machine believe it will reinforce their arguments. While battling politicians from both sides of the debate, Peter and Evangeline must get to the document first, because they know that if the wrong people find it, they will burn it, stripping the nation of its constitutional moorings. The search takes Peter and Evangeline into the rich history of America and New England, from Shay's Rebellion to the birth of the American industrial revolution to the march of the legendary 20th Maine in the Civil War. Past and present play off one another as the search for the draft heats up. It finally boils over on the first night of the World Series, at that Mecca of New England, Boston's fabled Fenway Park, and the truth is finally revealed.... At the Publisher's request, this title is being sold without Digital Rights Management Software (DRM) applied.
This groundbreaking book is the first to look at administration and administrative law in the earliest days of the American republic. Contrary to conventional understandings, Mashaw demonstrates that from the very beginning Congress delegated vast discretion to administrative officials and armed them with extrajudicial adjudicatory, rulemaking, and enforcement authority. The legislative and administrative practices of the U.S. Constitution’s first century created an administrative constitution hardly hinted at in its formal text. Beyond describing a history that has previously gone largely unexamined, this book, in the author’s words, will "demonstrate that there has been no precipitous fall from a historical position of separation-of-powers grace to a position of compromise; there is not a new administrative constitution whose legitimacy should be understood as not only contestable but deeply problematic."
American liberals and conservatives alike take for granted a progressive view of the Constitution that took root in the early twentieth century. Richard Epstein laments this complacency which, he believes, explains America's current economic malaise and political gridlock. Steering clear of well-worn debates between defenders of originalism and proponents of a living Constitution, Epstein employs close textual reading, historical analysis, and political and economic theory to urge a return to the classical liberal theory of governance that animated the framers' original constitutional design. Grounded in the thought of Locke, Hume, Madison, and other Enlightenment figures, classical liberalism emphasized federalism, restricted government, separation of powers, and strong protection of individual rights. New Deal progressives challenged this synthesis by embracing government as a force for social good rather than a necessary evil. The Supreme Court has unwisely ratified the progressive program by sustaining many legislative initiatives at odds with the classical liberal Constitution. Epstein addresses both the Constitution's structural safeguards against state power and its protection of individual rights. He sheds light on contemporary disputes ranging from presidential prerogatives to health care legislation, while exploring such enduring topics as judicial review, economic regulation, freedom of speech and religion, and equal protection.
A concise history of the long struggle between two fundamentally opposing constitutional traditions, from one of the nation’s leading constitutional scholars—a manifesto for renewing our constitutional republic. The Constitution of the United States begins with the words: “We the People.” But from the earliest days of the American republic, there have been two competing notions of “the People,” which lead to two very different visions of the Constitution. Those who view “We the People” collectively think popular sovereignty resides in the people as a group, which leads them to favor a “democratic” constitution that allows the “will of the people” to be expressed by majority rule. In contrast, those who think popular sovereignty resides in the people as individuals contend that a “republican” constitution is needed to secure the pre-existing inalienable rights of “We the People,” each and every one, against abuses by the majority. In Our Republican Constitution, renowned legal scholar Randy E. Barnett tells the fascinating story of how this debate arose shortly after the Revolution, leading to the adoption of a new and innovative “republican” constitution; and how the struggle over slavery led to its completion by a newly formed Republican Party. Yet soon thereafter, progressive academics and activists urged the courts to remake our Republican Constitution into a democratic one by ignoring key passes of its text. Eventually, the courts complied. Drawing from his deep knowledge of constitutional law and history, as well as his experience litigating on behalf of medical marijuana and against Obamacare, Barnett explains why “We the People” would greatly benefit from the renewal of our Republican Constitution, and how this can be accomplished in the courts and the political arena.
From Justice Department officials seizing people's homes based on mere rumors to the IRS and its master plan to prohibit the nation's self-employed from working for themselves to the perpetrators of the Waco siege, government officials are tearing the Bill of Rights to pieces. Today's citizen is now more likely than ever to violate some unknown law or regulation and be placed at the mercy of an administrator or politician hungering for publicity. Unfortunately, the only way many government agencies can measure their "public service" is by the number of citizens they harass, hinder, restrain, or jail. James Bovard's Lost Rights provides a highly entertaining analysis of the bloated excess of government and the plight of contemporary Americans beaten into submission by a horrible parody of the Founding Fathers' dream.
Near the close of the Civil War, as General Sherman blazed his path to the sea, an unknown infantryman rifled through the North Carolina state house.The soldier was hunting for simple Confederate mementos—maps, flags, official correspondence—but he wound up discovering something far more valuable. He headed home to Ohio with one of the touchstones of our republic: one of the fourteen original copies of the Bill of Rights. Lost Rights follows that document’s singular passage over the course of 138 years, beginning with the Indiana businessman who purchased the looted parchment for five dollars, then wending its way through the exclusive and shadowy world of high-end antiquities—a world populated by obsessive archivists, oddball collectors, forgers, and thieves— and ending dramatically with the FBI sting that brought the parchment back into the hands of the government. For fans of The Billionaire’s Vinegar and The Lost Painting, Lost Rights is “a tour de force of antiquarian sleuthing” (Hampton Sides).
The future of the U.S. Supreme Court hangs in the balance like never before. Will conservatives or liberals succeed in remaking the court in their own image? In A Constitution of Many Minds, acclaimed law scholar Cass Sunstein proposes a bold new way of interpreting the Constitution, one that respects the Constitution's text and history but also refuses to view the document as frozen in time. Exploring hot-button issues ranging from presidential power to same-sex relations to gun rights, Sunstein shows how the meaning of the Constitution is reestablished in every generation as new social commitments and ideas compel us to reassess our fundamental beliefs. He focuses on three approaches to the Constitution--traditionalism, which grounds the document's meaning in long-standing social practices, not necessarily in the views of the founding generation; populism, which insists that judges should respect contemporary public opinion; and cosmopolitanism, which looks at how foreign courts address constitutional questions, and which suggests that the meaning of the Constitution turns on what other nations do. Sunstein demonstrates that in all three contexts a "many minds" argument is at work--put simply, better decisions result when many points of view are considered. He makes sense of the intense debates surrounding these approaches, revealing their strengths and weaknesses, and sketches the contexts in which each provides a legitimate basis for interpreting the Constitution today. This book illuminates the underpinnings of constitutionalism itself, and shows that ours is indeed a Constitution, not of any particular generation, but of many minds.