For the People: What the Constitution Really Says About Your Rights

Overview

"We the People" have forgotten many of our constitutional rights, or we have allowed government officials to interpret them for us -- even when they are wrong. It is time to reclaim our Constitution.

Did you know that:
-- The Supreme Court is not the ultimate authority for constitutional interpretation. It is subservient to the People, who can amend the Constitution through a kind of national referendum.
-- In...

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Overview

"We the People" have forgotten many of our constitutional rights, or we have allowed government officials to interpret them for us -- even when they are wrong. It is time to reclaim our Constitution.

Did you know that:
-- The Supreme Court is not the ultimate authority for constitutional interpretation. It is subservient to the People, who can amend the Constitution through a kind of national referendum.
-- In certain cases juries may decide for themselves how to interpret the Constitution rather than follow judges' opinions.
-- The Framers intended for us to be able to protect ourselves from the federal government.

We the People have awesome responsibilities. If the Constitution really is to be an instrument of the People, as intended, it is imperative that we all understand this great document. Read this book and keep it (and its copy of the Constitution) on your shelf. We all owe ourselves, and our fellow citizens, an education in our constitutional rights and responsibilities.

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Editorial Reviews

Kirkus Reviews
A strange sight, indeed: Popular sovereignty is taken seriously in a discussion of the Constitution. In this populist interpretation of the Constitution, Amar (Law/Yale) and Hirsch (a freelance writer and graduate of Yale Law School) insist that "we the people" denotes a collective entity, not a collection of individuals. They contend that viewing the Constitution "through the prism of the individual" has overemphasized the majority-rule/minority-rights debate and has been reinforced by the tendency to dissect discrete passages rather than interpret the document as a whole. We have come to assume that "rights" refers to individual rights, ignoring the politically more fundamental conception of rights held by the public as a whole. Amar and Hirsch respond to this deficiency by exploring the implications of a broad reading (not to be confused with loose construction) of the Constitution regarding constitutional amendment, juries, and the military. In this volume's most controversial argument, the authors maintain that the specific procedures for amendment outlined in the Constitution do not preclude direct amendment by majority vote of the populace. The logic is inescapably democratic: If popular sovereignty is meaningful, how could the people be deprived of the right to amend the Constitution? Similarly, Amar and Hirsch find inalienable rights applicable to juries and the military, with straightforward implications. Peremptory challenges eliminating a candidate from jury service, for example, are not consistent with either the citizen's right to serve or the public's right to try the accused. Access to military service is no less a citizen's right or a public concern,consequently the authors argue that blocking the entry of gays or women into the ranks is indefensibleif the rights of "we the people" are truly paramount. Consistent and contentious throughout, Amar and Hirsch offer an analysis that should threaten both liberals and conservatives with a commitment to popular sovereignty both like to avoid.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780684871028
  • Publisher: Touchstone
  • Publication date: 8/13/1999
  • Edition description: Original
  • Pages: 272
  • Sales rank: 1,429,728
  • Product dimensions: 6.00 (w) x 9.00 (h) x 0.70 (d)

Table of Contents

Introduction
Pt. 1 the Ballot Box
1 The People's Right to Amend the Constitution 3
2 Why Amendment by the People Is Not Dangerous 20
3 The Right to Make State Law by Plebiscite 34
Pt. 2 the Jury Box
4 The Jury: What's the Big Idea? 51
5 The Constitutional Right to Serve on Juries 59
6 The Unconstitutionality of Peremptory Challenges 64
7 Rethinking the For-Cause Dismissal 79
8 The Right of Young Adults to Serve on Juries 86
9 Jury Review 93
10 Jury Nullification 105
11 The Public's Right to a Jury Trial 115
12 Suing Our Servants 120
Pt. 3 the Cartridge Box
13 National Security: the Constitutional Design 129
14 The Constitutional Right to Serve in the Military 135
15 Gays in the Military 140
16 Women in Combat 151
17 The Unconstitutionality of a National Draft (?) 158
18 The Right to Bear Arms 169
Pt. 4 the Lunch Box
19 Forty Acres and a Mule 183
Conclusion 200
App The Constitution of the United States 203
End Notes 227
Index 253
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