In Our Defense: The Bill of Rights in Action

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Overview

We The People

The Bill of Rights defines and defends the freedoms we enjoy as Americans — from the right to bear arms to the right to a civil jury. Using the dramatic true stories of people whose lives have been deeply affected by such issues as the death penalty and the right to privacy, attorneys Ellen Alderman and Caroline Kennedy reveal how the majestic priciples of the Bill of Rights have taken shape in ...

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Overview

We The People

The Bill of Rights defines and defends the freedoms we enjoy as Americans — from the right to bear arms to the right to a civil jury. Using the dramatic true stories of people whose lives have been deeply affected by such issues as the death penalty and the right to privacy, attorneys Ellen Alderman and Caroline Kennedy reveal how the majestic priciples of the Bill of Rights have taken shape in the lives of ordinary people, as well as the historic and legal significance of each amendment. In doing so, they shed brilliant new light on this visionary document, which remains as vital and as controversial today as it was when a great nation was newly born.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Does a citizenry's revulsion at hate-mongering outweigh the Ku Klux Klan's claimed right to broadcast racist messages? In what circumstances do national security considerations give government the wherewithal to clamp restrictions on a free press? If a mother suspected of child abuse refuses to tell authorities where the youngster is for fear that the state will take him from her, is she acting within the Fifth Amendment right protecting against self-incrimination? These cases and many other thorny issues addressed in this compelling casebook had legal outcomes that hinged on the courts' interpretation of the Bill of Rights. For each of the 10 amendments, one or more pertinent cases are presented in clear, impartial, jargon-free discussions encompassing the rights to privacy, gun control, FBI surveillance of political activists, minimum wage, flag burning and other issues. Columbia Law School graduates Alderman, a Manhattan attorney, and Kennedy (daughter of JFK) have produced a valuable primer for Supreme Court watchers. BOMC alternate. (Feb.)
Library Journal
The authors use fascinating accounts of real-life controversies to introduce the general reader to the Bill of Rights. Nineteen vignettes illuminate virtually all rights guarantees and demonstrate their contemporary relevance. Of particular interest are the stories about the development of public land held sacred by Native Americans (First Amendment) and the attempt to protect minors testifying in molestation cases (Sixth Amendment). Although the authors emphasize the human side of the Bill of Rights rather than its judicial interpretation, their legal analysis is sound, and the extensive notes and bibliography provide direction for further research. Previewed in Prepub Alert, LJ 9/15/90.-- G. Alan Tarr, Rutgers Univ., Camden, N.J.
School Library Journal
YA-- Alderman and Kennedy have taken the Bill of Rights and made it breathe. Their book considers 20 or so Supreme Court cases, the verdicts of which pivot on one of the first Ten Amendments to the U. S. Constitution. The cases chosen are not the landmark, precedent-setting ones with which most people are familiar. Instead, readers will find normal people who, because of circumstance, victimization, or character flaws, end up having their stories studied by the highest court in the land. As the authors acknowledge, ``It is a fair summary of history to say that the safeguards of liberty have frequently been forged in controversies involving not very nice people.'' Several life histories read more like soap operas and B-movies than a law text. The writing is clear, direct, and often poignant. There are photographs of some of the protagonists that add to the down-to-earth character of this study. Finally, it is entertaining.-- Vicki Fox, R. E. Lee High School, Springfield, VA
From Barnes & Noble
In this highly readable book the authors examine the Bill of Rights, exploring the historical & legal significance of each amendment & presenting several of the very human stories that have given life & shape to these basic rights.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780380717200
  • Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
  • Publication date: 3/28/1992
  • Series: Harper Perennial
  • Edition description: Reprint
  • Pages: 432
  • Sales rank: 114,605
  • Product dimensions: 5.25 (w) x 8.00 (h) x 0.97 (d)

Customer Reviews

Average Rating 3.5
( 7 )
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Sort by: Showing all of 7 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted September 13, 2013

    This is a superb book. It makes the Bill Of Rights some much mo

    This is a superb book. It makes the Bill Of Rights some much more understandable. it is an easy read and "user friendly"

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 4, 2007

    Cute Book

    A truly adorable book. I found it cute. At times enlightening. But more so cute. And when I say cute, I mean it in an 'easy' kind of way. This should be read in JHS & HS. Not university material. Once you're in college, you should have enough sense to realize what legislation would reach these types of cases without reading about it. Too common sense type.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 4, 2003

    An in-depth look at our Bill of Rights

    This book allows the reader to adress each amendment and see major events that have shaped and defined it. I would have enjoyed more cases for a well-balanced view, however, it did allow me to look at the 10 amendments more closely

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 17, 2002

    Bill of Rights gets mixed review

    Most of the first ten amendments get rave reviews from the authors, but the Founding Fathers really slipped up with the Second Amendment, they say. What a strange lapse on the part of such distinguished political thinkers! I don't suppose it could be that the authors are the ones who are detached from reality.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 6, 2010

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 2, 2008

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 18, 2009

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Sort by: Showing all of 7 Customer Reviews

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