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The Bill of Rights: Creation and Reconstruction (1998)

af Akhil Reed Amar

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262175,462 (4.03)3
Are the deep insights of Hugo Black, William Brennan, and Felix Frankfurter that have defined our cherished Bill of Rights fatally flawed? With meticulous historical scholarship and elegant legal interpretation a leading scholar of Constitutional law boldly answers yes as he explodes conventional wisdom about the first ten amendments to the U.S. Constitution in this incisive new account of our most basic charter of liberty. Akhil Reed Amar brilliantly illuminates in rich detail not simply the text, structure, and history of individual clauses of the 1789 Bill, but their intended relationships to each other and to other constitutional provisions. Amar's corrective does not end there, however, for as his powerful narrative proves, a later generation of antislavery activists profoundly changed the meaning of the Bill in the Reconstruction era. With the Fourteenth Amendment, Americans underwent a new birth of freedom that transformed the old Bill of Rights. We have as a result a complex historical document originally designed to protect the people against self-interested government and revised by the Fourteenth Amendment to guard minority against majority. In our continuing battles over freedom of religion and expression, arms bearing, privacy, states' rights, and popular sovereignty, Amar concludes, we must hearken to both the Founding Fathers who created the Bill and their sons and daughters who reconstructed it. Amar's landmark work invites citizens to a deeper understanding of their Bill of Rights and will set the basic terms of debate about it for modern lawyers, jurists, and historians for years to come.… (mere)

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Amar's book starts by explicating the Bill of Rights (the first 10 amendments to the U.S. Constitution plus the several that weren't ratified) as understood at the time of their creation in 1789, then follows with a description of how post-Civiil-War Reconstruction reinterpreted and enlivened them, re-positioning them, in combination with amendments 13, 14, and 15, from protections of the people against an overreaching federal government to protections of individual persons agains overreaching local majorities.

Throughout, Amar provides rich background, tying each clause of the Bill to the original Constitution, historical context, legal theory, and judicial opinio--background that enables a coherent and rich understanding of this vital document.

As a bonus, merely reading it, and it wasn't hard, Mr. Amar is witty and fluent and tremendously respectful of the reader, allowed me to read and undertand published U.S. Supreme Court opinions, no small feat itself.

While I was reading, the Supreme Court delivered a ruling that, for the first time, incorporated the Second Amendment (the right to "keep and bear arms") against the states via the 14th amendment, an important event that I would have taken no notice of prior to reading this--so an additional bonus in the form of an understanding of a current event going largely unreported.

Highly recommended. ( )
2 stem steve.clason | Jul 5, 2010 |
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Are the deep insights of Hugo Black, William Brennan, and Felix Frankfurter that have defined our cherished Bill of Rights fatally flawed? With meticulous historical scholarship and elegant legal interpretation a leading scholar of Constitutional law boldly answers yes as he explodes conventional wisdom about the first ten amendments to the U.S. Constitution in this incisive new account of our most basic charter of liberty. Akhil Reed Amar brilliantly illuminates in rich detail not simply the text, structure, and history of individual clauses of the 1789 Bill, but their intended relationships to each other and to other constitutional provisions. Amar's corrective does not end there, however, for as his powerful narrative proves, a later generation of antislavery activists profoundly changed the meaning of the Bill in the Reconstruction era. With the Fourteenth Amendment, Americans underwent a new birth of freedom that transformed the old Bill of Rights. We have as a result a complex historical document originally designed to protect the people against self-interested government and revised by the Fourteenth Amendment to guard minority against majority. In our continuing battles over freedom of religion and expression, arms bearing, privacy, states' rights, and popular sovereignty, Amar concludes, we must hearken to both the Founding Fathers who created the Bill and their sons and daughters who reconstructed it. Amar's landmark work invites citizens to a deeper understanding of their Bill of Rights and will set the basic terms of debate about it for modern lawyers, jurists, and historians for years to come.

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Yale University Press

2 udgaver af dette værk er udgivet af Yale University Press.

Udgaver: 0300082770, 0300073798

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