Looking for Rights in All the Wrong Places: Why State Constitutions Contain America's Positive Rights

Princeton University Press
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Unlike many national constitutions, which contain explicit positive rights to such things as education, a living wage, and a healthful environment, the U.S. Bill of Rights appears to contain only a long list of prohibitions on government. American constitutional rights, we are often told, protect people only from an overbearing government, but give no explicit guarantees of governmental help. Looking for Rights in All the Wrong Places argues that we have fundamentally misunderstood the American rights tradition. The United States actually has a long history of enshrining positive rights in its constitutional law, but these rights have been overlooked simply because they are not in the federal Constitution.

Emily Zackin shows how they instead have been included in America's state constitutions, in large part because state governments, not the federal government, have long been primarily responsible for crafting American social policy. Although state constitutions, seemingly mired in trivial detail, can look like pale imitations of their federal counterpart, they have been sites of serious debate, reflect national concerns, and enshrine choices about fundamental values. Zackin looks in depth at the history of education, labor, and environmental reform, explaining why America's activists targeted state constitutions in their struggles for government protection from the hazards of life under capitalism.

Shedding much-needed light on the variety of reasons that activists pursued the creation of new state-level rights, Looking for Rights in All the Wrong Places challenges us to rethink our most basic assumptions about the American constitutional tradition.

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About the author

Emily Zackin is assistant professor of political science at Hunter College, City University of New York.
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Additional Information

Publisher
Princeton University Press
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Published on
Apr 21, 2013
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Pages
248
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ISBN
9781400846276
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Language
English
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Genres
Law / Civil Rights
Law / Constitutional
Law / Government / State, Provincial & Municipal
Political Science / American Government / National
Political Science / Civil Rights
Political Science / Constitutions
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Content Protection
This content is DRM protected.
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Available on Android devices
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Eligible for Family Library

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From the Hardcover edition.
Sean Patrick
Have you ever had trouble understanding the United States Bill of Rights?

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.

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