The People Themselves: Popular Constitutionalism and Judicial Review / Edition 1

Paperback (Print)
Rent from
(Save 59%)
Est. Return Date: 05/03/2015
Buy Used
Buy Used from
(Save 41%)
Item is in good condition but packaging may have signs of shelf wear/aging or torn packaging.
Condition: Used – Good details
Used and New from Other Sellers
Used and New from Other Sellers
from $4.50
Usually ships in 1-2 business days
(Save 83%)
Other sellers (Paperback)
  • All (11) from $4.50   
  • New (3) from $23.85   
  • Used (8) from $4.50   


In this interpretation of America's founding and its concept of constitutionalism, Larry Kramer reveals how the first generations of Americans fought for and gave birth to a very different system from our current one and held a very different understanding of citizenship from that of most Americans today. "Popular sovereignty" was more than an empty abstraction, more than a mythic philosophical justification for government, and the idea of "the people" was more than a flip rhetorical gesture to be used on the campaign trail. Ordinary Americans exercised active control and sovereignty over their Constitution. The constitutionality of governmental action met with vigorous public debate in struggles whose outcomes might be greeted with celebratory feasts and bonfires, or with belligerent resistance. The Constitution remained, fundamentally, an act of popular will: the people's charter, made by the people. And it was "the people themselves" who were responsible for seeing that it was properly interpreted and implemented.
Read More Show Less

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher

"...masterful opening chapters...deserves great praise for his detailed historical research, which recaptures the flavor of early constitutionalism and its deep connection with an active and spirited American people. He also deserves great praise for untangling the different conceptions of "constitution" floating around and rendering that understanding easily accessible to a modern audience...a provocative and original analysis of American constitutionalism that will command a wide audience."--Perspectives on Politics

"Offers a fresh way of viewing the origins and limits of judicial review. The People Themselves challenges conventional constitutional jurisprudence and conventional constitutional history with a deeply researched historical pedigree for popular refusal to accept the Supreme Court's usurping title to the people's document."--The New York Review of Books

"Mr. Kramer is to be applauded for reminding us that courts do not enjoy a monopoly on the Constitution's true meaning and that senators and presidents alike should take the Constitution seriously in the confirmation process and at other times as well."--The Wall Street Journal

"An instructive tour through the early history of American constitutionalism."--National Review

"Larry Kramer explains one of the great mysteries of modern America--why for 40 years, have the freest people in the world been powerless to stop courts of appointed lawyers from eroding their freedoms?.... A manual on how the American people can legitimately exercise their historic right to create what he calls popular constitutionalism."--Newt Gingrich, The New York Post

"Rarely since Edmund Burke's 'Speech on Conciliation with America' in 1774 has the legal dimension of the American Revolution been understood with such precision and presented with such conviction."--First Things

"This book is perhaps the most important work of constitutional theory and history in a generation."--Mark Tushnet, author of Taking the Constitution Away from the Courts

"Larry Kramer's important project offers a refeshing challenge to the hackneyed story that places John Marshall and Marbury v. Madison at the center of the history of constitutional interpretation. Kramer restores to our historical understanding a lost world of popular constitutionalism, where the resolution of fundamental issues was regarded not as the private property of courts and judges but of the people themselves. And I cannot think of a better moment for such a challenge, because we live in an era when doubtful claims for the ultimate authority of the Supreme Court on all matters constitutional are again being heard in the land."--Jack Rakove, author of Original Meanings

"An intelligent and stimulating book. Unlike many law professors writing history, Kramer is very sensitive to context and differing historical circumstances. He offers an impressive and powerful argument for the origins of judicial review."--Gordon Wood, author of The Radicalism of the American Revolution

"This is the best account to date of the development of the power of judicial review in an age of revolutionary politics, and this history challenges us to ask what it really means to live in a democracy today. A fascinating work that deserves a wide audience."--Keith Whittington, author of Constitutional Construction

"Kramer's history is absorbing, his political theory subtle. He puts flesh on the bones of debates over judicial review and popular constitutionalism. With a sure and rare conceptual touch, he traces, and correlates to other political events, modulations over time in the American idea of the Constitution as law. As he does so, he rings the changes on this idea's perceived implications regarding the justifications, self-understandings, and modes of conduct of judicial review."--Frank Michelman, Harvard Law School

Read More Show Less

Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780195306453
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press, USA
  • Publication date: 11/25/2005
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 376
  • Sales rank: 1,264,718
  • Product dimensions: 8.90 (w) x 5.70 (h) x 0.90 (d)

Meet the Author

Larry Kramer is Russell D. Niles Professor of Law at New York University. He served as a law clerk to Justice William J. Brennan, Jr., of the United States Supreme Court and taught at the law schools of both the University of Chicago and the University of Michigan before moving to NYU. He has written extensively in both academic and popular journals on topics involving the role of courts in society.

Read More Show Less

Table of Contents

Introduction - Popular Constitutionalism
1. In Substance, and in Principle, the Same as It Was Heretofore: The Customary Constitution
2. A Rule Obligatory Upon Every Department: The Origins of Judicial Review
3. The Power under the Constitution Will Always Be in the People: The Making of the Constitution
4. Courts, as Well as Other Departments, Are Bound by That Instrument: Accepting Judicial Review
5. What Every True Republican Ought to Depend On: Rejecting Judicial Supremacy
6. Notwithstanding This Abstract View: The Changing Context of Constitutional Law
7. To Preserve the Constitution, as a Perpetual Bond of Union: The Lessons of Experience
8. A Layman's Document, Not a Lawyer's Contract: The Continuing Struggle for Popular Constitutionalism
9. As An American: Popular Constitutionalism, Circa 2004
Epilogue - Judicial Review Without Judicial Supremacy

Read More Show Less

Customer Reviews

Average Rating 5
( 1 )
Rating Distribution

5 Star


4 Star


3 Star


2 Star


1 Star


Your Rating:

Your Name: Create a Pen Name or

Barnes & 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 & 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 & 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 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


  • - By submitting a review, you grant to Barnes & and its sublicensees the royalty-free, perpetual, irrevocable right and license to use the review in accordance with the Barnes & Terms of Use.
  • - Barnes & reserves the right not to post any review -- particularly those that do not follow the terms and conditions of these Rules. Barnes & 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 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)