Have you ever wondered what was really meant by one or more of the ten amendments?
Have you ever been unsure as to how these rights apply to modern society?
Have you even questioned if the Bill of Rights should still be held as inviolable law, nearly 250 years after its writing?
Here's the truth: the Bill of Rights is not easy to understand if you just pick it up and give it a read. The eloquent style in which it's written can be confusing. The language can cause misunderstandings. There's a lot of legal terminology that's beyond most of us. Without an understanding of the historical background of certain amendments, it's impossible to fully understand their importance and scope. And to top it all off, there are countless politicians and pundits that try to interpret our rights for us and tell us what the Founders meant.
But are you comfortable letting crooked politicians decide what your rights are? Or would you rather know and be able to insist on, with certainty, the freedoms our Founders intended for you, your family, your friends, and your fellow Americans? If you're like millions of other Americans, you'll choose the latter.
Thomas Jefferson said, "Educate and inform the whole mass of the people...They are the only sure reliance for the preservation of our liberty." He also said, "If a nation expects to be ignorant and free... it expects what never was and never will be."
That's why this book was created, and it would make the Founders proud if they were here today. This book helps you easily reach a deep understanding of the Bill of Rights by walking you through each amendment, clarifying the precise definitions of key words; providing the historical context you need to fully grasp and spirit and importance of the amendments; sharing powerfully insightful quotes on each amendment, straight from the Founders and their peers; supplying you with an extensive glossary of terms so you never get lost in a dictionary or encyclopedia trying to understand what you're reading; and more.
The Founders fought tirelessly to guarantee you specific rights to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. Don't let two-faced politicians and pundits tell you what your rights are.
Scroll up and click the "Buy" button now to learn your rights, and together, we can keep the spirit of freedom alive in this great nation.
The Declaration of Independence was the promise of a representative government; the Constitution was the fulfillment of that promise.
On July 4, 1776, the Second Continental Congress issued a unanimous declaration: the thirteen North American colonies would be the thirteen United States of America, free and independent of Great Britain. Drafted by Thomas Jefferson, the Declaration set forth the terms of a new form of government with the following words: "We hold these Truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness."
Framed in 1787 and in effect since March 1789, the Constitution of the United States of America fulfilled the promise of the Declaration by establishing a republican form of government with separate executive, legislative, and judicial branches. The first ten amendments, known as the Bill of Rights, became part of the Constitution on December 15, 1791. Among the rights guaranteed by these amendments are freedom of speech, freedom of the press, freedom of religion, and the right to trial by jury. Written so that it could be adapted to endure for years to come, the Constitution has been amended only seventeen times since 1791 and has lasted longer than any other written form of government.
From the Paperback edition.
by Alexander Hamilton, James Madison, and John Jay
Originally published anonymously, The Federalist Papers first appeared in 1787 as a series of letters to New York newspapers exhorting voters to ratify the proposed Constitution of the United States. Still hotly debated, and open to often controversial interpretations, the arguments first presented here by three of America’s greatest patriots and political theorists were created during a critical moment in our nation’s history, providing readers with a running ideological commentary on the crucial issues facing a democracy.
Today The Federalist Papers are as important and vital a rallying cry for freedom as ever. This edition features the original eighteenth-century text, with James Madison’s fascinating marginal notations, as well as a complete text of the Constitution.
From the Trade Paperback edition.
An authoritative analysis of the Constitution of the United States and an enduring classic of political philosophy.
Written by Alexander Hamilton, James Madison, and John Jay, The Federalist Papers explain the complexities of a constitutional government—its political structure and principles based on the inherent rights of man. Scholars have long regarded this work as a milestone in political science and a classic of American political theory.
Based on the original McLean edition of 1788 and edited by noted historian Clinton Rossiter, this special edition includes:
● Textual notes and a select bibliography by Charles R. Kesler
● Table of contents with a brief précis of each essay
● Appendix with a copy of the Constitution cross-referenced to The Federalist Papers
● Index of Ideas that lists the major political concepts discussed
● Copies of The Declaration of Independence and Articles of Confederation
In this book, we learn how the Founding Fathers discovered this success formula. Much of this discovery is told in the words of the Founders themselves, so that the reader can feel the power of their minds sweeping away thousands of years of bad government and illogical laws to formulate a whole new society based on human freedom.
By returning to the roots of the Founders’ thinking, and contemplating the logic that they used in establishing the Constitution, we can better understand the challenges and solutions that confront us in today’s political world.
This eBook includes the original index, illustrations, footnotes, table of contents and page numbering from the printed format.
More than almost any other nation in the world, the United States began as an idea. For this reason, Pulitzer Prize-winning historian Gordon S. Wood believes that the American Revolution is the most important event in our history, bar none. Since American identity is so fluid and not based on any universally shared heritage, we have had to continually return to our nation's founding to understand who we are. In The Idea of America, Wood reflects on the birth of American nationhood and explains why the revolution remains so essential.
In a series of elegant and illuminating essays, Wood explores the ideological origins of the revolution-from ancient Rome to the European Enlightenment-and the founders' attempts to forge an American democracy. As Wood reveals, while the founders hoped to create a virtuous republic of yeoman farmers and uninterested leaders, they instead gave birth to a sprawling, licentious, and materialistic popular democracy.
Wood also traces the origins of American exceptionalism to this period, revealing how the revolutionary generation, despite living in a distant, sparsely populated country, believed itself to be the most enlightened people on earth. The revolution gave Americans their messianic sense of purpose-and perhaps our continued propensity to promote democracy around the world-because the founders believed their colonial rebellion had universal significance for oppressed peoples everywhere. Yet what may seem like audacity in retrospect reflected the fact that in the eighteenth century republicanism was a truly radical ideology-as radical as Marxism would be in the nineteenth-and one that indeed inspired revolutionaries the world over.
Today there exists what Wood calls a terrifying gap between us and the founders, such that it requires almost an act of imagination to fully recapture their era. Because we now take our democracy for granted, it is nearly impossible for us to appreciate how deeply the founders feared their grand experiment in liberty could evolve into monarchy or dissolve into licentiousness. Gracefully written and filled with insight, The Idea of America helps us to recapture the fears and hopes of the revolutionary generation and its attempts to translate those ideals into a working democracy.
Lin-Manuel Miranda’s smash Broadway musical Hamilton has sparked new interest in the Revolutionary War and the Founding Fathers. In addition to Alexander Hamilton, the production also features George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, James Madison, Aaron Burr, Lafayette, and many more.
From the Hardcover edition.
We all know this much: the Constitution is neither immutable nor perfect. Amar shows us how the story of this one relatively compact document reflects the story of America more generally. (For example, much of the Constitution, including the glorious-sounding “We the People,” was lifted from existing American legal texts, including early state constitutions.) In short, the Constitution was as much a product of its environment as it was a product of its individual creators’ inspired genius.
Despite the Constitution’s flaws, its role in guiding our republic has been nothing short of amazing. Skillfully placing the document in the context of late-eighteenth-century American politics, America’s Constitution explains, for instance, whether there is anything in the Constitution that is unamendable; the reason America adopted an electoral college; why a president must be at least thirty-five years old; and why–for now, at least–only those citizens who were born under the American flag can become president.
From his unique perspective, Amar also gives us unconventional wisdom about the Constitution and its significance throughout the nation’s history. For one thing, we see that the Constitution has been far more democratic than is conventionally understood. Even though the document was drafted by white landholders, a remarkably large number of citizens (by the standards of 1787) were allowed to vote up or down on it, and the document’s later amendments eventually extended the vote to virtually all Americans.
We also learn that the Founders’ Constitution was far more slavocratic than many would acknowledge: the “three fifths” clause gave the South extra political clout for every slave it owned or acquired. As a result, slaveholding Virginians held the presidency all but four of the Republic’s first thirty-six years, and proslavery forces eventually came to dominate much of the federal government prior to Lincoln’s election.
Ambitious, even-handed, eminently accessible, and often surprising, America’s Constitution is an indispensable work, bound to become a standard reference for any student of history and all citizens of the United States.
In The Tempting of America, one of our most distinguished legal minds offers a brilliant argument for the wisdom and necessity of interpreting the Constitution according to the “original understanding” of the Framers and the people for whom it was written.
Widely hailed as the most important critique of the nation’s intellectual climate since The Closing of the American Mind, The Tempting of America illuminates the history of the Supreme Court and the underlying meaning of constitutional controversy. Essential to understanding the relationship between values and the law, it concludes with a personal account of Judge Bork’s chillingly emblematic experiences during the Senate Judiciary Committee’s hearing on his Supreme Court nomination.
Since 2005, A Patriot's History of the United States has become a modern classic for its defense of America as a unique country founded on principles of justice, equality, and freedom for all.
The Patriot's History Reader continues this tradition by going back to the original sources-the documents, speeches, and legal decisions that shaped our country into what it is today.
The authors explore both oft-cited documents-the Declaration of Independence, Emancipation Proclamation, and Roe v. Wade--as well as those that are less famous. Among these are George Washington's letter to Alexander Hamilton, which essentially outline America's military strategy for the next 150 years, and Herbert Hoover's speech on business ethics, which examines the government's role in regulating private enterprise.
By helping readers explore history at its source, this book sheds new light on the principles and personalities that have made America great.
Revisiting all the original documents and using her deep knowledge of eighteenth-century history and politics, Carol Berkin takes a fresh look at the men who framed the Constitution, the issues they faced, and the times they lived in. Berkin transports the reader into the hearts and minds of the founders, exposing their fears and their limited expectations
Known across the country for his appearance on The Daily Show with Jon Stewart, Professor Richard Beeman is one of the nation's foremost experts on the United States Constitution. In this book, he has produced what every American should have: a compact, fully annotated copy of the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution and amendments, all in their entirety. A marvel of accessibility and erudition, the guide also features a history of the making of the Constitution with excerpts from The Federalist Papers and a look at crucial Supreme Court cases that reminds us that the meaning of many of the specific provisions of the Constitution has changed over time.
"Excellent . . . valuable and judicious." -Jill Lepore, The New Yorker
From the Trade Paperback edition.
"A devastating indictment of our current system of justice." — Milton Friedman
In this provocative book, Paul Craig Roberts and Lawrence M. Stratton show how the law, which once shielded us from the government, has now become a powerful weapon in the hands of overzealous prosecutors and bureaucrats. Lost is the foundation upon which our freedom rest—the intricate framework of Constitutional limits that protect our property, our liberty, and our lives. Roberts and Stratton convincingly argue that this abuse of government power doesn't have ideological boundaries. Indeed, conservatives and liberals alike use prosecutors, regulators, and courts to chase after their own favorite "devils," to seek punishment over justice and expediency over freedom. The authors present harrowing accounts of people both rich and poor, of CEOs and blue-collar workers who have fallen victim to the tyranny of good intentions, who have lost possessions, careers, loved ones, and sometimes even their lives.
This book is a sobering wake-up call to reclaim that which is rightly ours—liberty protected by the rule of law.
From the Hardcover edition.
In this fully revised second edition, leading scholars in law, history, and public policy offer more than two hundred updated and incisive essays on every clause of the Constitution.
From the stirring words of the Preamble to the Twenty-seventh Amendment, you will gain new insights into the ideas that made America, important debates that continue from our Founding, and the Constitution's true meaning for our nation.
This is the book you want to keep with you at all times: the full text of the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution, the two documents that are the backbone of United States government. Reading them as they were written is a must for every American. Regular reading is required for any historian or member of the legal profession, and a good idea for all Americans.
Acclaimed Constitutional scholar Paul Skousen, author of How to Read the Constitution, frames this simple text with a brief preface and a summary of important facts about these two documents, including important dates, for the ultimate quick reference. Throughout the text of the Constitution, he provides a clear guide to parts that became invalid due to later amendments, making the current meaning clear. Without intruding on the meaning, Skousen gives you a great tool for understanding our most basic principles of good government. An inspiring introduction by New York Times best-selling author Dan Clark will put you in the right frame of mind to read and appreciate these great documents.
This handy guide can become your best friend, and you'll want to keep a copy nearby. Fortunately, this little book will easily fit into your pocket or briefcase, top desk drawer, or iPad case. You'll may find you want to have extra copies around to hand out, too. Here is your chance to become an expert on two of the most important documents that shaped our country!
In a new afterword, Levinson looks at the deepening of constitutional worship and attributes the current widespread frustrations with the government to the static nature of the Constitution.
The Constitution which went into effect in 1787 then embodied a small, rural Republic of but 13 States located along the eastern seaboard of present day United States. The population of the Union was only 4 million. However it carried slight weight in international affairs. During the following span of time, the Union has grown into an urbanized, industrial country of 50 States extending as far westward as Alaska and Hawaii. The population now exceeds 215 million, and the Nation ranks as a leading global super power.
Along side the growth and power of the United has been a remarkable increase in the scope and influence of the Presidency over the years especially in the 20th and 21st centuries.
How can a leader be strong and decisive, yet still inspire loyalty in his followers? How do you keep your enemies in check? Is it better to be feared than loved? When is it necessary to break the rules? This shrewd handbook on how power really works answers all these questions by examining regimes and their rulers around the world and throughout history, from Roman emperors to renaissance Popes, from the savagely cruel Hannibal to the utterly devious Cesare di Borgia.
Tim Parks's gripping contemporary translation delivers Machiavelli's no-nonsense original straight, making it as alarming and enlightening as when it was first written.
"An elegantly written account of leadership at the most pivotal moment in American history" (Philadelphia Inquirer): Pulitzer Prize-winning historian Edward J. Larson reveals how George Washington saved the United States by coming out of retirement to lead the Constitutional Convention and serve as our first president.
After leading the Continental Army to victory in the Revolutionary War, George Washington shocked the world: he retired. In December 1783, General Washington, the most powerful man in the country, stepped down as Commander in Chief and returned to private life at Mount Vernon. Yet as Washington contentedly grew his estate, the fledgling American experiment floundered. Under the Articles of Confederation, the weak central government was unable to raise revenue to pay its debts or reach a consensus on national policy. The states bickered and grew apart. When a Constitutional Convention was established to address these problems, its chances of success were slim. Jefferson, Madison, and the other Founding Fathers realized that only one man could unite the fractious states: George Washington. Reluctant, but duty-bound, Washington rode to Philadelphia in the summer of 1787 to preside over the Convention.
Although Washington is often overlooked in most accounts of the period, this masterful new history from Pulitzer Prize-winner Edward J. Larson brilliantly uncovers Washington’s vital role in shaping the Convention—and shows how it was only with Washington’s support and his willingness to serve as President that the states were brought together and ratified the Constitution, thereby saving the country.
"Though admittedly a valuable and able study, Rawle's View of the Constitution stirred up controversy. Rawle himself was a Federalist, but his studies in government had led him to the judgment that the Union was not irrevocable. His final chapter on "The Union" includes a detailed statement that the right of secession was necessary to the fundamental right of a people to choose their own form of government. (. . .) In several ways, Rawle may be considered as providing the transitional step between the North and the South. His View was published midway between the inauguration of the Federal Government and the outbreak of the War Between the States." --Elizabeth Kelley Bauer, Commentaries on the Constitution, 1790-1860 63).
WILLIAM RAWLE [1759-1836] was a pillar of Pennsylvania's legal establishment and a highly regarded attorney and educator. In 1791 President George Washington appointed him the U.S. district attorney for Pennsylvania. In 1830 Rawle helped revise the civil code of Pennsylvania.
In the years since their creation, the Declaration of Independence (1776) and the Constitution of the United States (1789) have come to be recognized as two of history’s most significant political documents. Yet, while they affect our everyday lives, too few of us are familiar with what they say.
In this revised and updated edition, readers will find complete explanations of every section of the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution—its Preamble, main body, and amendments—so that readers may fully understand what they meant to our forefathers and what they mean to us today.
With The Second Amendment Primer, Les Adams finally provides an accessible discussion of the Second Amendment. It is a “primer” because it is elementary. Chronologically arranged, it traces the development of the right to keep and bear arms from its birth in ancient Greece to its addition in the U.S. Constitution. Supplemental essays discuss the Second Amendment’s interpretation in today’s world from the viewpoints of both firearms enthusiasts as well as those who would limit the amendment’s purview.
Although The Second Amendment Primer is aimed at the average reader, Adams’s facts are detailed and well-documented. Reference margin notes, an extensive bibliography, and a comprehensive subject index showcase the author’s research and show more curious readers how to continue on their path to understanding exactly what the Second Amendment is saying. Using this “citizen’s guide” as a stepping stone, anyone can become a successful scholar of the right to bear arms.
While no Anti-Federalist party emerged after ratification, Anti-Federalism continued to help define the limits of legitimate dissent within the American constitutional tradition for decades. Anti-Federalist ideas also exerted an important influence on Jeffersonianism and Jacksonianism. Exploring the full range of Anti-Federalist thought, Cornell illustrates its continuing relevance in the politics of the early Republic.
A new look at the Anti-Federalists is particularly timely given the recent revival of interest in this once neglected group, notes Cornell. Now widely reprinted, Anti-Federalist writings are increasingly quoted by legal scholars and cited in Supreme Court decisions--clear proof that their authors are now counted among the ranks of America's founders.
The United States Constitution—the bedrock of our country, the foundation of our federal republic—is . . . dead.
You won’t hear that from the politicians who endlessly pay lip service to the Constitution. It’s the dirty little secret that bestselling authors Thomas E. Woods Jr. and Kevin R. C. Gutzman expose in this provocative new book. The fact is that government officials—Democrats and Republicans, presidents, judges, and congresses alike—long ago rejected the idea that the Constitution possesses a fixed meaning limiting the U.S. government’s power.
In case you’ve forgotten, this idea was not a minor aspect of the Constitution; it was the document’s very purpose.
Woods and Gutzman round up the suspects responsible for the death of the government the Founding Fathers designed. Going right to the scenes of the crimes, they dissect twelve of the most egregious assaults on the Constitution—some virtually unknown. In chronicling this “dirty dozen,” the authors show that the attacks began long before presidents declared preemptive wars, congresses built pork-barrel bridges to nowhere, and Supreme Court justices began to behave as our supreme legislators.
In Who Killed the Constitution? Woods and Gutzman
• REVEAL the federal government’s “great gold robbery”—the flagrant assault on the Constitution you never heard about in history class
• DESTROY the phony case for presidential war power
• EXPOSE how the federal government has actively discriminated to end . . . discrimination
• TEAR DOWN the “wall of separation” between church and state—an invention that completely contradicts what the Constitution says
• DARE to touch the “third rail of American jurisprudence,” Brown v. Board of Education—showing why a government decision that seems “right” isn’t necessarily constitutional
Never shying away from controversy, Woods and Gutzman reveal an unsettling but unavoidable truth: now that the federal government has broken free of the Constitution’s chains, government officials are restrained by little more than their sense of what they can get away with.
Who Killed the Constitution? is a rallying cry for Americans outraged by government run amok and a warning to take heed before we lose the liberties we are truly entitled to.
From the Hardcover edition.
This new edition of The Federalist is edited by Robert Scigliano, a professor in the political science department at Boston College. His substantive Introduction sheds clarifying new light on the historical context and meaning of The Federalist. Scigliano also provides a fresh and definitive analysis of the disputed authorship of several sections of this crucial work.
From the Hardcover edition.
Many people have wondered why I’ve been speaking out on controversial issues for the last few years. They say I’ve never held political office. I’m not a constitutional scholar. I’m not even a lawyer. All I can say to that is “Guilty as charged.”
It’s true that I’ve never voted for a budget America could not afford. I’ve never raised anyone’s taxes. And I’ve never promised a lobbyist anything in exchange for a donation.
Luckily, none of that really matters. Our founding fathers didn’t want a permanent governing class of professional politicians. They wanted a republic, in Lincoln’s words, "of the people, by the people, and for the people." A country where any farmer, small-business owner, manual laborer, or doctor could speak up and make a difference.
I believe that making a difference starts with understanding our amazing founding document, the U.S. Constitution. And as someone who has performed brain surgery thousands of times, I can assure you that the Constitution isn’t brain surgery.
The founders wrote it for ordinary men and women, in clear, precise, simple language. They intentionally made it short enough to read in a single sitting and to carry in your pocket.
I wrote this book to encourage every citizen to read and think about the Constitution, and to help defend it from those who misinterpret and undermine it. In our age of political correctness it’s especially important to defend the Bill of Rights, which guarantees our freedom to speak, bear arms, practice our religion, and much more.
The Constitution isn’t history—it’s about your life in America today. And defending it is about what kind of country our children and grandchildren will inherit.
I hope you’ll enjoy learning about the fascinating ways that the founders established the greatest democracy in history—and the ways that recent presidents, congresses, and courts have threatened that democracy.
As the Preamble says, the purpose of the Constitution is to create a more perfect union. My goal is to empower you to help protect that union and secure the blessings of liberty.
In THE WORDS WE LIVE BY, Linda Monk probes the idea that the Constitution may seem to offer cut-and-dried answers to questions regarding personal rights, but the interpretations of this hallowed document are nearly infinite. For example, in the debate over gun control, does "the right of the people to bear arms" as stated in the Second Amendment pertain to individual citizens or regulated militias? What do scholars say? Should the Internet be regulated and censored, or does this impinge on the freedom of speech as defined in the First Amendment? These and other issues vary depending on the interpretation of the Constitution.
Through entertaining and informative annotations, THE WORDS WE LIVE BY offers a new way of looking at the Constitution. Its pages reflect a critical, respectful and appreciative look at one of history's greatest documents. THE WORDS WE LIVE BY is filled with a rich and engaging historical perspective along with enough surprises and fascinating facts and illustrations to prove that your Constitution is a living--and entertaining--document.
Updated now for the first time, THE WORDS WE LIVE BY continues to take an entertaining and informative look at America's most important historical document, now with discussions on new rulings on hot button issues such as immigration, gay marriage, and affirmative action.
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• 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.
From the Hardcover edition.
Today we assume that when the Court rules, the public will obey. But Breyer declares that we cannot take the public’s confidence in the Court for granted. He reminds us that at various moments in our history, the Court’s decisions were disobeyed or ignored. And through investigations of past cases, concerning the Cherokee Indians, slavery, and Brown v. Board of Education, he brilliantly captures the steps—and the missteps—the Court took on the road to establishing its legitimacy as the guardian of the Constitution.
Justice Breyer discusses what the Court must do going forward to maintain that public confidence and argues for interpreting the Constitution in a way that works in practice. He forcefully rejects competing approaches that look exclusively to the Constitution’s text or to the eighteenth-century views of the framers. Instead, he advocates a pragmatic approach that applies unchanging constitutional values to ever-changing circumstances—an approach that will best demonstrate to the public that the Constitution continues to serve us well. The Court, he believes, must also respect the roles that other actors—such as the president, Congress, administrative agencies, and the states—play in our democracy, and he emphasizes the Court’s obligation to build cooperative relationships with them.
Finally, Justice Breyer examines the Court’s recent decisions concerning the detainees held at Guantánamo Bay, contrasting these decisions with rulings concerning the internment of Japanese-Americans during World War II. He uses these cases to show how the Court can promote workable government by respecting the roles of other constitutional actors without compromising constitutional principles.
Making Our Democracy Work is a tour de force of history and philosophy, offering an original approach to interpreting the Constitution that judges, lawyers, and scholars will look to for many years to come. And it further establishes Justice Breyer as one of the Court’s greatest intellectuals and a leading legal voice of our time.
From the Hardcover edition.
By the time of his retirement in June 2010, John Paul Stevens had become the second longest serving Justice in the history of the Supreme Court. Now he draws upon his more than three decades on the Court, during which he was involved with many of the defining decisions of the modern era, to offer a book like none other. SIX AMENDMENTS is an absolutely unprecedented call to arms, detailing six specific ways in which the Constitution should be amended in order to protect our democracy and the safety and wellbeing of American citizens.
Written with the same precision and elegance that made Stevens's own Court opinions legendary for their clarity as well as logic, SIX AMENDMENTS is a remarkable work, both because of its unprecedented nature and, in an age of partisan ferocity, its inarguable common sense.
Perfection is at hand. A new, improved Constitution is here. And you are holding it.
But first, some historical context: In the eighteenth century, a lawyer named James Madison gathered his friends in Philadelphia and, over four long months, wrote four short pages: the Constitution of the United States of America. Not bad.
In the nineteenth century, a president named Abraham Lincoln freed an entire people from the flaws in that Constitution by signing the Emancipation Proclamation. Pretty impressive.
And in the twentieth century, a doctor at the Bethesda Naval Hospital delivered a baby—but not just any baby. Because in the twenty-first century, that baby would become a man, that man would become a patriot, and that patriot would rescue a country . . . by single-handedly rewriting that Constitution.
Why? We think of our Constitution as the painstakingly designed blueprint drawn up by, in Thomas Jefferson’s words, an “assembly of demigods” who laid the foundation for the sturdiest republic ever created. The truth is, it was no blueprint at all but an Etch A Sketch, a haphazard series of blunders, shaken clean and redrawn countless times during a summer of petty debates, drunken ramblings, and desperate compromise—as much the product of an “assembly of demigods” as a confederacy of dunces.
No wonder George Washington wished it “had been made more perfect.” No wonder Benjamin Franklin stomached it only “with all its faults.” The Constitution they wrote is a hot mess. For starters, it doesn’t mention slavery, or democracy, or even Facebook; it plays favorites among the states; it has typos, smudges, and misspellings; and its Preamble, its most famous passage, was written by a man with a peg leg. Which, if you think about it, gives our Constitution hardly a leg to stand on.
[Pause for laughter.]
Now stop laughing. Because you hold in your hands no mere book, but the most important document of our time. Its creator, Daily Show writer Kevin Bleyer, paid every price, bore every burden, and saved every receipt in his quest to assure the salvation of our nation’s founding charter. He flew to Greece, the birthplace of democracy. He bused to Philly, the home of independence. He went toe-to-toe (face-to-face) with Scalia. He added nightly confabs with James Madison to his daily consultations with Jon Stewart. He tracked down not one but two John Hancocks—to make his version twice as official. He even read the Constitution of the United States.
So prepare yourselves, fellow patriots, for the most significant literary event of the twenty-first, twentieth, nineteenth, and latter part of the eighteenth centuries. Me the People won’t just form a More Perfect Union. It will save America.
Praise for Me the People
“I would rather read a constitution written by Kevin Bleyer than by the sharpest minds in the country.”—Jon Stewart
“Bleyer takes a red pencil to democracy’s most hallowed laundry list. . . . Uproarious and fascinating.”—Reader’s Digest
“I knew James Madison. James Madison was a friend of mine. Mr. Bleyer, you are no James Madison. But you sure are a heck of a lot more fun.”—Pulitzer Prize–winning historian Doris Kearns Goodwin, author of the #1 New York Times bestseller Team of Rivals
From the Hardcover edition.