BN.com Gift Guide

Constitutional Construction / Edition 1

Paperback (Print)
Buy New
Buy New from BN.com
$34.20
Used and New from Other Sellers
Used and New from Other Sellers
from $10.18
Usually ships in 1-2 business days
(Save 71%)
Other sellers (Paperback)
  • All (13) from $10.18   
  • New (6) from $37.53   
  • Used (7) from $10.18   

Overview

This book argues that the Constitution has a dual nature. The first aspect, on which legal scholars have focused, is the degree to which the Constitution acts as a binding set of rules that can be neutrally interpreted and externally enforced by the courts against government actors. This is the process of constitutional interpretation. But according to Keith Whittington, the Constitution also permeates politics itself, to guide and constrain political actors in the very process of making public policy. In so doing, it is also dependent on political actors, both to formulate authoritative constitutional requirements and to enforce those fundamental settlements in the future. Whittington characterizes this process, by which constitutional meaning is shaped within politics at the same time that politics is shaped by the Constitution, as one of construction as opposed to interpretation.

Whittington goes on to argue that ambiguities in the constitutional text and changes in the political situation push political actors to construct their own constitutional understanding. The construction of constitutional meaning is a necessary part of the political process and a regular part of our nation's history, how a democracy lives with a written constitution. The Constitution both binds and empowers government officials. Whittington develops his argument through intensive analysis of four important cases: the impeachments of Justice Samuel Chase and President Andrew Johnson, the nullification crisis, and reforms of presidential-congressional relations during the Nixon presidency.

Read More Show Less

Editorial Reviews

Washington Times

Mr. Whittington sees the Constitution not as an immutable legal document but as something more fluid and more mysterious, a powerful and authoritative force which constantly influences political outcomes while itself being subject to politics. Battles over constitutional construction are of course political battles...[and] Mr. Whittington has interesting things to say about the way these conflicts play out.
— Peter A. Jay

Weekly Standard

Constitutional Construction offers renewed vigor to a tired field and should provoke some fresh thinking by constitutional scholars.
— Jeremy Rabkin

Choice

This book is an important addition to modern constitutional theory. Whittington brings to life an old but not well understood idea—that constitutional development is the product of judicial interpretation and binding rules and of political practice.
— J. B. Grossman

Law and Politics Book Review

Constitutional Construction is a fine example of institutional analysis...displays a fine feel for political nuance and sensitivity to institutional subtlety...shows that is possible to do exceptional political analysis without it becoming legalistic scholarship...[and is] exceptionally well written...Whittington's book demonstrates that political science profits handsomely from history. Political science without history isn't very good political science. And history without political science often amounts to little more than storytelling. The quality of this book's history is every bit as good as the quality of its political science.
— Craig Ducat

American Political Science Review

This is a superb, pathbreaking book that demonstrates the dual nature of constitutional change. Through a subtle analysis of congressional-presidential politics, Whittington convincingly argues that the process by which constitutional meaning is defined is not solely the purview of the Supreme Court and lesser courts. He shows that the Constitution gains meaning as a result of the politics of construction engaged in by political actors seeking political and policy objectives...[Constitutional Construction] is must reading for a wide range of scholars of American institutions and political development, law and courts, history, and American political thought.
— Ronald Kahn

Humane Studies Review

A major theoretical contribution to the perennial debate on the...fundamental, recurrent questions in American constitutional law.
— James E. Bond

Journal of Interdisciplinary History

Whittington's book is among the most important recently published about constitutional theory and history.
— Mark Tushnet

Journal of Southern History

Constitutional Construction provides a needed corrective to the works of constitutional theorists who focus solely on jurisprudential issues...Whittington concludes that scholars need to look beyond the courts and recognize the multifaceted nature of the Constitution.
— Michael Ross

Washington Times - Peter A. Jay
Mr. Whittington sees the Constitution not as an immutable legal document but as something more fluid and more mysterious, a powerful and authoritative force which constantly influences political outcomes while itself being subject to politics. Battles over constitutional construction are of course political battles...[and] Mr. Whittington has interesting things to say about the way these conflicts play out.
Weekly Standard - Jeremy Rabkin
Constitutional Construction offers renewed vigor to a tired field and should provoke some fresh thinking by constitutional scholars.
Choice - J. B. Grossman
This book is an important addition to modern constitutional theory. Whittington brings to life an old but not well understood idea--that constitutional development is the product of judicial interpretation and binding rules and of political practice.
Law and Politics Book Review - Craig Ducat
Constitutional Construction is a fine example of institutional analysis...displays a fine feel for political nuance and sensitivity to institutional subtlety...shows that is possible to do exceptional political analysis without it becoming legalistic scholarship...[and is] exceptionally well written...Whittington's book demonstrates that political science profits handsomely from history. Political science without history isn't very good political science. And history without political science often amounts to little more than storytelling. The quality of this book's history is every bit as good as the quality of its political science.
American Political Science Review - Ronald Kahn
This is a superb, pathbreaking book that demonstrates the dual nature of constitutional change. Through a subtle analysis of congressional-presidential politics, Whittington convincingly argues that the process by which constitutional meaning is defined is not solely the purview of the Supreme Court and lesser courts. He shows that the Constitution gains meaning as a result of the politics of construction engaged in by political actors seeking political and policy objectives...[Constitutional Construction] is must reading for a wide range of scholars of American institutions and political development, law and courts, history, and American political thought.
Humane Studies Review - James E. Bond
A major theoretical contribution to the perennial debate on the...fundamental, recurrent questions in American constitutional law.
Journal of Interdisciplinary History - Mark Tushnet
Whittington's book is among the most important recently published about constitutional theory and history.
Journal of Southern History - Michael Ross
Constitutional Construction provides a needed corrective to the works of constitutional theorists who focus solely on jurisprudential issues...Whittington concludes that scholars need to look beyond the courts and recognize the multifaceted nature of the Constitution.
Craig R. Ducat
Whittington's book demonstrates-as if a demonstration was necessary- that political science profits handsomely from history. Political science without history usually isn't very good political science. And history without political science often amounts to little more than storytelling. The quality of this book's history is every bit as good as the quality of its political science. However, sometimes-in the first chapter, particularly-I think eloquence gets in the way of understanding. The chapter-length case studies and the fine concluding chapter do much to burn off some of the initial fog. To say that this volume produces a model of constitutional construction is perhaps to convey an expectation of too much precision. There are qualifications aplenty and not a little ambiguity. Whittington gives us a model of constitutional construction in the sense, I suppose, that Richard Neustadt gave us a model of presidential power, although Whittington provides a lot more support.
Read More Show Less

Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780674005839
  • Publisher: Harvard University Press
  • Publication date: 5/15/2001
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 316
  • Product dimensions: 0.66 (w) x 6.14 (h) x 9.21 (d)

Meet the Author

Keith E. Whittington is Assistant Professor of Politics at Princeton University.
Read More Show Less

Table of Contents

Preface

1. The Political Constitution

2. The Chase Impeachment and Shaping the Federal Judiciary

3. The Nullification Crisis and the Limits of National Power

4. Andrew Johnson and Executive Construction

5. Richard Nixon and the Leadership of the Modern State

6. Building the American Constitution

Notes Index

Read More Show Less

Customer Reviews

Be the first to write a review
( 0 )
Rating Distribution

5 Star

(0)

4 Star

(0)

3 Star

(0)

2 Star

(0)

1 Star

(0)

Your Rating:

Your Name: Create a Pen Name or

Barnes & Noble.com Review Rules

Our reader reviews allow you to share your comments on titles you liked, or didn't, with others. By submitting an online review, you are representing to Barnes & Noble.com that all information contained in your review is original and accurate in all respects, and that the submission of such content by you and the posting of such content by Barnes & Noble.com does not and will not violate the rights of any third party. Please follow the rules below to help ensure that your review can be posted.

Reviews by Our Customers Under the Age of 13

We highly value and respect everyone's opinion concerning the titles we offer. However, we cannot allow persons under the age of 13 to have accounts at BN.com or to post customer reviews. Please see our Terms of Use for more details.

What to exclude from your review:

Please do not write about reviews, commentary, or information posted on the product page. If you see any errors in the information on the product page, please send us an email.

Reviews should not contain any of the following:

  • - HTML tags, profanity, obscenities, vulgarities, or comments that defame anyone
  • - Time-sensitive information such as tour dates, signings, lectures, etc.
  • - Single-word reviews. Other people will read your review to discover why you liked or didn't like the title. Be descriptive.
  • - Comments focusing on the author or that may ruin the ending for others
  • - Phone numbers, addresses, URLs
  • - Pricing and availability information or alternative ordering information
  • - Advertisements or commercial solicitation

Reminder:

  • - By submitting a review, you grant to Barnes & Noble.com and its sublicensees the royalty-free, perpetual, irrevocable right and license to use the review in accordance with the Barnes & Noble.com Terms of Use.
  • - Barnes & Noble.com reserves the right not to post any review -- particularly those that do not follow the terms and conditions of these Rules. Barnes & Noble.com also reserves the right to remove any review at any time without notice.
  • - See Terms of Use for other conditions and disclaimers.
Search for Products You'd Like to Recommend

Recommend other products that relate to your review. Just search for them below and share!

Create a Pen Name

Your Pen Name is your unique identity on BN.com. It will appear on the reviews you write and other website activities. Your Pen Name cannot be edited, changed or deleted once submitted.

 
Your Pen Name can be any combination of alphanumeric characters (plus - and _), and must be at least two characters long.

Continue Anonymously

    If you find inappropriate content, please report it to Barnes & Noble
    Why is this product inappropriate?
    Comments (optional)