Reflections on Constitutional Law

University Press of Kentucky
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Constitutional scholar George Anastaplo believes that many judges and lawyers draw upon a skimpy, if not simply unreliable, knowledge of history. He proposes that in order to write reliable opinions, these men and women must have a deeper understanding of the enduring principles upon which the law naturally tends to draw. In the study of constitutional law, Anastaplo argues that it is more important to weigh what the Supreme Court has said and how that is saidÑwhat considerations it weighed and howÑthan it is to know what it is recorded that the Court Òdecided.Ó In Reflections on Constitutional Law, Anastaplo makes the case for a renewed focus on a now often-overlooked aspect of the study of law. He emphasizes the continuing significance and importance of the Constitution by thoroughly examining the most important influences on the American constitutional system, including the Magna Carta and the Declaration of Independence.
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About the author

George Anastaplo, professor of law at Loyola University in Chicago and lecturer in the liberal arts at the University of Chicago, is the author of numerous books, including Reflections on Constitutional Law and The Constitutionalist.

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Additional Information

Publisher
University Press of Kentucky
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Published on
Aug 25, 2006
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Pages
288
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ISBN
9780813171340
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Language
English
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Genres
Law / Constitutional
Political Science / Constitutions
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Content Protection
This content is DRM free.
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When we think of constitutional law, we invariably think of the United States Supreme Court and the federal court system. Yet much of our constitutional law is not made at the federal level. In 51 Imperfect Solutions, U.S. Court of Appeals Judge Jeffrey S. Sutton argues that American Constitutional Law should account for the role of the state courts and state constitutions, together with the federal courts and the federal constitution, in protecting individual liberties. The book tells four stories that arise in four different areas of constitutional law: equal protection; criminal procedure; privacy; and free speech and free exercise of religion. Traditional accounts of these bedrock debates about the relationship of the individual to the state focus on decisions of the United States Supreme Court. But these explanations tell just part of the story. The book corrects this omission by looking at each issue-and some others as well-through the lens of many constitutions, not one constitution; of many courts, not one court; and of all American judges, not federal or state judges. Taken together, the stories reveal a remarkably complex, nuanced, ever-changing federalist system, one that ought to make lawyers and litigants pause before reflexively assuming that the United States Supreme Court alone has all of the answers to the most vexing constitutional questions. If there is a central conviction of the book, it's that an underappreciation of state constitutional law has hurt state and federal law and has undermined the appropriate balance between state and federal courts in protecting individual liberty. In trying to correct this imbalance, the book also offers several ideas for reform.
Though the U.S. Constitution was ratified in 1788, its impact on our lives is as recent as today's news. Claims and counterclaims about the constitutionality of governmental actions are a habit of American politics. This document, which its framers designed to limit power, often has made political conflict inevitable. It also has accommodated and legitimized the political and social changes of a vibrant, powerful democratic nation. A product of history's first modern revolution, the Constitution embraced a new formula for government: it restrained power on behalf of liberty, but it also granted power to promote and protect liberty. The U.S. Constitution: A Very Short Introduction explores the major themes that have shaped American constitutional history: federalism, the balance of powers, property, representation, equality, rights, and security. Informed by the latest scholarship, this book places constitutional history within the context of American political and social history. As our nation's circumstances have changed, so has our Constitution. Today we face serious challenges to the nation's constitutional legacy. Endless wars, a sharply divided electorate, economic inequality, and immigration, along with a host of other issues, have placed demands on government and on society that test our constitutional values. Understanding how the Constitution has evolved will help us adapt its principles to the challenges of our age. ABOUT THE SERIES: The Very Short Introductions series from Oxford University Press contains hundreds of titles in almost every subject area. These pocket-sized books are the perfect way to get ahead in a new subject quickly. Our expert authors combine facts, analysis, perspective, new ideas, and enthusiasm to make interesting and challenging topics highly readable.
In The Georgia State Constitution, Melvin Hill Jr. offers a detailed description of the creation and development of Georgias constitution. He explains how political and cultural events, from colonial times, through the Civil War, to the present, have affected Georgias constitutional law. Accompanying the full text of the constitution is Hills rich commentary of the constitutional provisions. He traces their origins and interpretation by the courts and other governmental bodies. This volume also provides a bibliographical essay which features the most important sources of Georgias constitutional history and constitutional law. Previously published by Greenwood, this title has been brought back in to circulation by Oxford University Press with new verve. Re-printed with standardization of content organization in order to facilitate research across the series, this title, as with all titles in the series, is set to join the dynamic revision cycle of The Oxford Commentaries on the State Constitutions of the United States. The Oxford Commentaries on the State Constitutions of the United States is an important series that reflects a renewed international interest in constitutional history and provides expert insight into each of the 50 state constitutions. Each volume in this innovative series contains a historical overview of the states constitutional development, a section-by-section analysis of its current constitution, and a comprehensive guide to further research. Under the expert editorship of Professor G. Alan Tarr, Director of the Center on State Constitutional Studies at Rutgers University, this series provides essential reference tools for understanding state constitutional law. Books in the series can be purchased individually or as part of a complete set, giving readers unmatched access to these important political documents.
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.

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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.
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