Constitutional Faith

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Overview

This book examines the "constitutional faith" that has, since 1788, been a central component of American "civil religion." By taking seriously the parallel between wholehearted acceptance of the Constitution and religious faith, Sanford Levinson opens up a host of intriguing questions about what it means to be American. While some view the Constitution as the central component of an American religion that serves to unite the social order, Levinson maintains that its sacred role can result in conflict, fragmentation, and even war. To Levinson, the Constitution's value lies in the realm of the discourse it sustains: a uniquely American form of political rhetoric that allows citizens to grapple with every important public issue imaginable.

In a new afterword, Levinson looks at the deepening of constitutional worship and attributes the current widespread frustrations with the government to the static nature of the Constitution.

This book examines the special relationship in the American mind for the US Constitution and what it means for us.

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Editorial Reviews

The Nation
The signal virtue of these fascinating travels through the metaphoric and historical life of the secular worship of the Constitution is the challenge . . . to work out the terms of one's own constitutional faith.
— Michael Meltsner
The Philadelphia Inquirer
[Levinson] brilliantly transposes his concern from the overfamiliar problem of how judges should decide cases and how they can be restrained from becoming tyrants to the question of what it means to adhere to a constitution. . . . [The book] is rich and pleasingly conversational.
— Thomas Morawetz
The New Republic
Sanford Levinson is a man of the left who takes patriotism seriously. In Constitutional Faith, he offers a timely meditation on exactly what, if anything, America can stand for.
— Stephen Macedo
Philadelphia Inquirer
[R]ich and pleasingly controversial.
— Thomas Morawetz
The Nation - Michael Meltsner
The signal virtue of these fascinating travels through the metaphoric and historical life of the secular worship of the Constitution is the challenge . . . to work out the terms of one's own constitutional faith.
Philadelphia Inquirer - Thomas Morawetz
[Levinson] brilliantly transposes his concern from the overfamiliar problem of how judges should decide cases and how they can be restrained from becoming tyrants to the question of what it means to adhere to a constitution. . . . [The book] is rich and pleasingly conversational.
The New Republic - Stephen Macedo
Sanford Levinson is a man of the left who takes patriotism seriously. In Constitutional Faith, he offers a timely meditation on exactly what, if anything, America can stand for.
From the Publisher
Winner of the 1989 Scribes Book Award, American Society of Writers on Legal Subjects

"The signal virtue of these fascinating travels through the metaphoric and historical life of the secular worship of the Constitution is the challenge . . . to work out the terms of one's own constitutional faith."—Michael Meltsner, The Nation

"Sanford Levinson is a man of the left who takes patriotism seriously. In Constitutional Faith, he offers a timely meditation on exactly what, if anything, America can stand for."—Stephen Macedo, The New Republic

"[R]ich and pleasingly controversial."—Thomas Morawetz, Philadelphia Inquirer

"[Levinson] brilliantly transposes his concern from the overfamiliar problem of how judges should decide cases and how they can be restrained from becoming tyrants to the question of what it means to adhere to a constitution. . . . [The book] is rich and pleasingly conversational."—Thomas Morawetz, The Philadelphia Inquirer

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780691152400
  • Publisher: Princeton University Press
  • Publication date: 9/11/2011
  • Edition description: Reprint
  • Pages: 280
  • Product dimensions: 6.00 (w) x 9.00 (h) x 1.81 (d)

Meet the Author


Sanford Levinson is professor of law and government at the University of Texas Law School and a frequent visitor at the Harvard and Yale law schools. He is a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. His many books include "Our Undemocratic Constitution".
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Table of Contents

Acknowledgments ix

Introduction 3

Chapter 1 The "Constitution" in American Civil Religion 9

Chapter 2 The Moral Dimension of Constitutional Faith 54

Chapter 3 Loyalty Oaths: The Creedal Affirmations of Constitutional Faith 90

Chapter 4 Constitutional "Attachment": Identifying the Content of One's Commitment 122

Chapter 5 The Law School, the Faith Community, and the Professing of Law 155

Chapeter 6 Conclusion: Adding One's Signature to the Constitution 180

Notes 195

Afterword To The 2011 Edition 245

Index 257

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