A Constitution of Many Minds: Why the Founding Document Doesn't Mean What It Meant Before

Overview

"What distinguishes the most important minds is less the answers they offer than the questions they ask. Who but Cass Sunstein would think to ask what unites the arguments and assumptions of traditionalists, populists, and cosmopolitans in constitutional interpretation and elsewhere—and what influences the force of those arguments at different times and in different places? Exploring those questions with his characteristic elegance and insight, Sunstein—the most prolific and significant legal scholar of our time—has written a brilliant book for

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A Constitution of Many Minds: Why the Founding Document Doesn't Mean What It Meant Before

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Overview

"What distinguishes the most important minds is less the answers they offer than the questions they ask. Who but Cass Sunstein would think to ask what unites the arguments and assumptions of traditionalists, populists, and cosmopolitans in constitutional interpretation and elsewhere—and what influences the force of those arguments at different times and in different places? Exploring those questions with his characteristic elegance and insight, Sunstein—the most prolific and significant legal scholar of our time—has written a brilliant book for all seasons."—Laurence H. Tribe, Harvard Law School

"Sunstein combines diverse theories of constitutional interpretation into one coherent framework. That framework is captured by the book's title—A Constitution of Many Minds. This book is likely to be widely read and highly cited."—Kim Lane Scheppele, author of Legal Secrets

"Sunstein presents an elegant and fascinating argument, and he consistently tries to play fair with the views he is assessing. He covers many areas and has provocative things to say about them. A Constitution of Many Minds is a fine book that is sure to provoke much discussion."—Sanford Levinson, author of Our Undemocratic Constitution

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Editorial Reviews

Texas Law Review
Applying . . . insights to the field of constitutional law, the book develops, in elegant and careful prose, a novel collection of arguments within their discipline. The author [has] raised a number of fresh and controversial issues, and, as a result, [his] work is certain to be widely read and much discussed.
— N.W. Barber
New York Law Journal
Sunstein has a knack for identifying the operative kernel of complex ideas in a way that allows the reader to see how an unfamiliar concept links seemingly disparate problems.
— Azuz Huq
DC Lawyer Magazine
We would do well to have more thinkers around like Sunstein, and better yet to have more of them on the Supreme Court.
— Leonard H. Becker
Texas Law Review - N.W. Barber
Applying . . . insights to the field of constitutional law, the book develops, in elegant and careful prose, a novel collection of arguments within their discipline. The author [has] raised a number of fresh and controversial issues, and, as a result, [his] work is certain to be widely read and much discussed.
New York Law Journal - Azuz Huq
Sunstein has a knack for identifying the operative kernel of complex ideas in a way that allows the reader to see how an unfamiliar concept links seemingly disparate problems.
DC Lawyer Magazine - Leonard H. Becker
We would do well to have more thinkers around like Sunstein, and better yet to have more of them on the Supreme Court.
From the Publisher
Winner of the 2009 PROSE Award in Law & Legal Studies, Association of American Publishers

"Applying . . . insights to the field of constitutional law, the book develops, in elegant and careful prose, a novel collection of arguments within their discipline. The author [has] raised a number of fresh and controversial issues, and, as a result, [his] work is certain to be widely read and much discussed."—N.W. Barber, Texas Law Review

"Sunstein has a knack for identifying the operative kernel of complex ideas in a way that allows the reader to see how an unfamiliar concept links seemingly disparate problems."—Azuz Huq, New York Law Journal

"We would do well to have more thinkers around like Sunstein, and better yet to have more of them on the Supreme Court."—Leonard H. Becker, DC Lawyer Magazine

Library Journal

Sunstein (Harvard Law Sch.; Worst-Case Scenarios), currently information and regulatory affairs administrator in the Obama adminstration, engages us in a conversation about the enduring issues of American constitutional law and how society can create changes in constitutional understanding. He looks at three means of constitutional interpretation-traditionalism, populism, and cosmopolitanism-which, respectively, stress the role of traditions, the significance of public opinion, and the importance of foreign law in creating our present constitutional arguments. As Sunstein explains, each approach overlaps with the other. Sunstein carefully analyzes each approach and shows that all create a central dilemma in constitutional law; for example, the traditionalism approach limits some aspects of due process activities. He also examines the consequences of each approach to determine whether it would make our constitutional order better or worse. He sees the new social and political commitments of citizens and political leaders, as well as the courts, as key elements in redirecting constitutional interpretation. Highly recommended for scholarly audiences and lay readers interested in current constitutional studies.
—Steven Puro

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780691152424
  • Publisher: Princeton University Press
  • Publication date: 9/4/2011
  • Pages: 240
  • Sales rank: 537,677
  • Product dimensions: 6.00 (w) x 9.20 (h) x 0.70 (d)

Meet the Author

Cass R. Sunstein is currently on leave from his position as the Felix Frankfurter Professor at Harvard Law School to serve as Administrator of the Office of Regulation and Information Policy in the Obama administration. His many books include "Republic.com 2.0" (Princeton), "Worst-Case Scenarios", and "Nudge".

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Table of Contents

Preface ix
Introduction: Jefferson's Revenge 1
Part I. Preliminaries 17
Chapter 1. There Is Nothing That Interpretation Just Is 19
Part II. Traditionalism 33
Chapter 2. Burkean Minimalism 35
Chapter 3. Rationalists vs. Burkeans 60
Chapter 4. Due Process Traditionalism 93
Part III. Populism 123
Chapter 5. Backlash's Travels 125
Chapter 6. Public Opinion and Social Consequences 140
Chapter 7. Public Opinion and Judicial Humility 165
Part IV. Cosmopolitanism 185
Chapter 8. What Other Nations Do 187
Afterword 210
Acknowledgments 217
Index 219

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