The US Supreme Court and the Centralization of Federal Authority

SUNY Press
Free sample

 Traces the US Supreme Court’s effect on federal government growth from the founding era forward.
This 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.

“Dichio takes a fairly unique approach to thinking about the relationship between the US Supreme Court and the development of the American state. Scholars interested in American political development and historical work on the law and the courts should grapple with the evidence on offer here.” — Keith E. Whittington, coauthor of American Constitutionalism, Second Edition
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About the author

 Michael A. Dichio is Assistant Professor of Political Science at Fort Lewis College.

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Additional Information

Publisher
SUNY Press
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Published on
Nov 1, 2018
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Pages
294
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ISBN
9781438472546
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Language
English
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Genres
History / United States / General
LAW / Public
Law / Constitutional
Political Science / American Government / Judicial Branch
Political Science / Constitutions
Political Science / History & Theory
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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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Have you ever had trouble understanding the United States Bill of Rights?

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In America’s Constitution, one of this era’s most accomplished constitutional law scholars, Akhil Reed Amar, gives the first comprehensive account of one of the world’s great political texts. Incisive, entertaining, and occasionally controversial, this “biography” of America’s framing document explains not only what the Constitution says but also why the Constitution says it.

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.
Together in one book, the two most important documents in United States history form the enduring legacy of America’s Founding Fathers including Thomas Jefferson, James Madison, and Alexander Hamilton.

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.
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