Liberty under Law: American Constitutionalism, Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow

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In recent decades, we have witnessed the emergence of ongoing public arguments about the intellectual and cultural foundations of our constitutional system; the norms governing constitutional interpretation and the proper role of the judiciary in this system; and the proper interpretation of certain key provisions of our fundamental law. Seen in this light, constitutional controversies of the type we are experiencing today threaten to engulf our political system in a crisis of the first magnitude. These controversies are the subject of these essays. To the extent that governmental actions are perceived by large numbers of Americans to lack constitutional warrant the result can only be the progressive erosion of the moral authority of our constitutional system. The book is divided into three parts; the contributors in the first section address the question of the intellectual foundations and cultural preconditions of the American constitutional commonwealth; in the second they discuss the ongoing debate between the proponents of an originalist approach to constitutional interpretation and their nonoriginalist critics; and in the final section they examine several contemporary controversies over the meaning of specific constitutional provisions. These essays represent serious contributions to a number of critically important scholarly debates. Contributors: Randall W. Bland, Thomas L. Pangle, Francis Canavan, S.J., Jean Bethke Elshtain, Robert Booth Fowler, William Gangi, Gerard V. Bradley, Christopher Wolfe, Sanford Levinson, Robert Scigliano, Robert J. Spitzer, Thomas G. West, George Weigel, David G. Dalin, and Herman Belz. Co-published with the Project on American Constitutionalism, Southwest Texas State University (SWT).

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Editorial Reviews

Robert P. George
Among the chief embarrassments of contemporary political science is its evident irrelevance to practical democratic life. This remarkable volume, however, is an outstanding exception. Professors Grasso and Castillo and the distinguished contributors they have assembled show that scholarly research and reflection have important contributions to make to the deliberation and decisions of citizens.
Ellis Sandoz
The essays by eminent scholars in the fields of public law and political theory collected here represent significant contributions to the ongoing debate about the foundations and proper operation of the American constitutional system.
Sixteen chapters selected from the Project on American Constitutionalism's lecture series from 1992 to 1997 examine a number of historical and present-day constitutional controversies. The lectures are divided into three sections which treat: the theoretical foundations and cultural preconditions of the Constitution, with discussions of federalist and anti- federalist views of ratification, the philosophy of Edmund Burke, and religion in American culture; a survey of opinions on the original intent debate; and chapters on controversies arising from specific clauses and amendments in the constitution, including looks at the President's war power, the Presidential veto, the church vs. state debate, and free speech issues. Annotation c. by Book News, Inc., Portland, Or.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780761806912
  • Publisher: University Press of America
  • Publication date: 1/28/1997
  • Pages: 232
  • Product dimensions: 6.04 (w) x 9.30 (h) x 0.75 (d)

Meet the Author

Kenneth L. Grasso and Cecelia Rodriquez Castillo are both Professors of Political Science at Southwest Texas State University and are affliated with the Project on American Constitutionalism at the same university.

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Table of Contents

Pt. I American Constitutionalism: Theoretical Foundations and Cultural Preconditions
Ch. 1 The Achievement of the Constitution, as Viewed by the Leading Federalists 1
Ch. 2 Burke and the Problem of Constitutional Liberty 13
Ch. 3 The City, The Law and the Civic Philosopher 25
Ch. 4 The Constitution of Religion and American Culture 37
Pt. II Constitutional Interpretation: Originalism and Its Critics
Ch. 5 The Judicial Power: A View From The Federalist Papers 51
Ch. 6 Originalism and Criminal Procedure 77
Ch. 7 When Constitution and Precedent Collide 87
Ch. 8 The Operational Irrelevance of Originalism 105
Pt. III Contemporary Issues in American Constitutionalism
Ch. 9 The New Understanding of the President's War Power 121
Ch. 10 From Presidential Shield to 'Go Ahead, Make My Day': The Presidential Veto and the Constitutional Balance of Power 139
Ch. 11 The Decline of Free Speech in Twentieth-Century America: The View from the Founding 149
Ch. 12 The First Freedom Today: Church and State in Contemporary America 173
Ch. 13 How High the Wall?: American Jews and the Church-State Debate 185
Ch. 14 Affirmative Action and American Equality: A Constitutionalist Perspective 201
About the Editors 215
About the Contributors 217
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