Seasoned Judgments: The American Constitution, Rights, and History

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Leonard Levy’s new book, a compendium of his law review articles, book chapters, and basic shorter writings on themes with which he has long been identified, is a treasure chest of sound and reasonable analysis of American constitutional history. As one reviewer of the manuscript put matters: “There is not a clinker amongst them.” For anyone who thinks that liberal analysis has grown soft and flabby, a good dose of Levy’s book should set the record straight.

Seasoned Judgments is divided into three parts: Rights, Constitutional History, and The Marshall Court. In this progression from the general to the concrete, Levy never ignores the context as well as the content of the judicial process. Indeed, it is this linkage that separates him from nearly all other commentators and writers on the subjects covered. Whether discussing why the original Constitution lacked a Bill or Rights, or why the Fourth Amendment uses the imperative form “shall not” rather than the conditional form “ought not,” the reader enters a world of explanation rich in detail and carful scholarly elaboration.

Well-known as editor in chief of the multivolumed Encyclopedia of the American Constitution, this new volume extracts some of Levy’s own contributions to that effort. As a result, one can, for the first time, gain a clear sense of the author’s own profound sense of the major issues confronting American law from the founding fathers to the present. The analysis of such still unresolved issues as flag desecration, the exclusionary rule, testimonial compulsion, taxation without representation, and the nature of the Constitution itself, will be of tremendous appeal to historians and political scientists as well as attorneys and judges.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"This manuscript is a treasure chest of sound and reasonable judgments and analysis of American constitutional historythe manuscript delivers on its title. The essays are tough-minded, tightly written, and at times polemical. . . . [T]here is not a clinker among them." Howard G. Schneiderman "Moving from the general to the more concrete, Mevy explains the origins and evolution of some of the most basic issues in constitutional government from the time of the framers to the present day. His explanations are rich in detail and marked by careful scholarly analysis, making them informative and interesting reading. . . . Levy's volume helps one to understand better the roots and meaning of our constitution.” —C. P. Chelf, Choice "In 36 law review articles, essays and chapters drawn from his many books, one of the clearest and most eloquent liberal interpreters of law brings together a lifetime of deliberation into a volume that should be an invaluable reference for lawyers, historians, studentsand anyone who loves elegant thought and expression on the human wellsprings of the rules we choose to live by." D.J.R. Bruckner, New York Times Book Review "Levy's Mind is spritely. He respects history and is willing to deal with inconvenient facts. This is a good book. . . . [A] useful exercise in Constitutional history." —Dennis Owens, Appellate Practice Journal "Readers are likely to come away from this book with a deep respect for Levy's versatility of interests and his depth of scholarship. . . . Levy's essays reflect the ambiguity implicit in a Constitution that is at once a public charter and the foundation of massive legal and scholarly edifices. The essays should also open windows onto and stimulate further interest in Levy's own prodigious scholarship." John R. Vile, Political Science Quarterly
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781560001706
  • Publisher: Transaction Publishers
  • Publication date: 12/31/1996
  • Pages: 444

Meet the Author

Leonard W. Levy was formerly Earl Warren Professor of American Constitutional History at Brandeis University. Since 1970, he has been at the Claremont Graduate School where he is Andrew W. Mellon All Claremont Professor of Humanities, and chair of the Graduate Faculty of History. In 1969 he won the Pulitzer Prize for his book Origins of the Fifth Amendment. He is also author of The Establishment Clause: Religion and the first Amendment; The Framing and Ratification of the Constitution; and Original Intent and the Framers’ Constitution. He currently lives in Oregon.

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Table of Contents

1 The Original Constitution As a Bill of Rights? 3
2 Property As a Human Right 13
3 The Right Is Wrong on Rights 31
4 On the Origins of the Free Press Clause 41
5 The Legacy Reexamined 85
6 Flag Desecration 111
7 The Incorporation Doctrine 119
8 Incorporation and the Wall 127
9 The Fourth Amendment 147
10 The Exclusionary Rule 177
11 Establishment of the Fifth Amendment Right 185
12 Framing the Fifth Amendment 223
13 Immunity Grants 255
14 Miranda v. Arizona 259
15 Testimonial and Nontestimonial Compulsion 263
16 The Ninth Amendment 267
17 Social Compact Theory 287
18 Constitution 291
19 Constitutional Convention 295
20 Due Process of Law 299
21 Taxation Without Representation 303
22 Massachusetts Constitution 307
23 Articles of Confederation 311
24 Ratifier Intent 317
25 The Supreme Court 1789-1801 321
26 And Some Leading Cases: Chisholm, Hayburn, Calder, Ware, and Hylton 331
27 Freedom in Turmoil: Era of the Sedition Act 337
28 Textualism 349
29 Lemuel Shaw: America's "Greatest Magistrate" 357
30 The Marshall Court 379
31 Marbury v. Madison 393
32 Federal Common Law of Crimes 401
33 Three Contract Clause Cases (N.J. v. Wilson, Fletcher, Dartmouth) 407
34 Martin v. Hunter's Lessee 417
35 McCulloch v. Maryland 423
36 Cohens v. Virginia 431
37 Gibbons v. Ogden 439
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